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‘Just paint, paint, paint for them’: Inability to shoot 3s for Indiana basketball makes for easy defensive work on opponents



Indiana basketball
Indiana basketball is reluctant to shoot 3s -- and inefficient when it does -- and is making it an easy defensive cover for opponents. (Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports)

NEW YORK –– There was no question that the three point shooting of the Indiana basketball team was a major weakness heading into this season and there is no hiding it when you face off against top-level competition like Sunday.

Indiana entered Sunday’s matchup with No. 5 UConn getting outscored 111-33 on 3s this season.

Indiana was just 11-of-44 on 3s this season — 27.5 percent — before its 3-of-13 performance against the Huskies.

In four games, Indiana basketball has been outscored by 12, 24, 27 and 27 on 3.

It was a point of emphasis for UConn to force Indiana to take 3s or struggle in the paint. The Hoosiers went the later and shot just 37.8 percent from the field and .877 points per possession en route to just 57 points.

“Really it was just about taking away the paint and getting in (driving lane) the gaps which is not necessarily what we do but for this game it made sense,” UConn head coach Dan Hurley said postgame.

“Just paint, paint, paint for them. The three-point line is not something — at this point for them — that’s a strength.”

Two of Indiana’s made 3s were from 7-foot center Kel’el Ware. Ware was just 2-of-10 from the field, including 2-of-4 from three. He came into Sunday’s matchup averaging 18.3 points per game while shooting 74.1 percent from the floor.

Malik Reneau carried Indiana all game before fouling out at the 7:04 mark in the second half. He finished with 18 points on 7-of-9 from the field. Reneau and Ware combined for 29 of Indiana’s 57 points.

Related: Malik Reneau shines against UConn despite the tough offensive performance for Indiana Basketball

“The strength is is their four (Reneau) and five (Ware), and it’s (Xavier) Johnson and (Trey) Galloway cutting, slashing,” Hurley said. ” … We came into this wanting to trap him (Reneau) and just dig off of Ware because Donovan (Clingan) could handle that one-on-one (matchup) for the most part. And Ware’s only two field goals in the game were threes.”

Last year, Indiana averaged just 5.7 made 3s per game — ranked 334th in the country. IU was outscored by 189 points on 3s last season. The year before, Indiana averaged 5.9 made 3s per game — ranked 311th in the nation. It was outscored by 177 points on 3s.

This season, just 27.3 percent of the Hoosiers’ shot attempts are 3s. That ranks 339th in KenPom’s ratings. 14.6 percent of the team’s total points are 3s — ranked 356th.

Indiana is now shooting 26.4 percent from the field, ranked 319th in college basketball.

Xavier Johnson leads Indiana with four made 3s. He is 4-of-9. Kel’el Ware is 3-of-7 and Gabe Cupps is 2-of-6.

Trey Galloway and Mackenzie Mgabko have 10 attempts each — the most on the roster. Galloway has made three and Mgbako has made one.

“I gotta do a better job in getting our team in better offense,” Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson said postgame. “I can’t make shots for them, but I gotta get them in a better position to be better on offense.”

The Hoosiers have one more game in the Empire Classic on Monday, facing off against Louisville.

SEE ALSO: Indiana Basketball Opponent Scouting Notes: Louisville

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.