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Player Q&A: Xavier Johnson and CJ Gunn react to Indiana basketball’s win against Ohio State



Indiana basketball

Indiana basketball players Xavier Johnson and CJ Gunn spoke to reporters following Indiana’s 71-65 win against Ohio State on Saturday night at Assembly Hall.

The players spoke about Xavier Johnson’s motivation, CJ Gunn’s play, Malik Reneau’s big second half and much more.

Below is the full video Q&A and transcript.

Xavier, Coach Woodson soon CJ had a couple really good days of practice. What have you seen from CJ the way he’s attacked getting better and maybe putting himself in a position to do what did tonight, knocking down a lot of key shots in the second half?

XAVIER JOHNSON: I mean, that just comes from work he puts in. CJ is in the gym all the time and now you’re just seeing the results. He’s a guy that has high confidence in himself and fears nothing.

CJ, a lot of times people use the phrase the game is slowing down. Is that happening for you? If so, what is it that’s happening that you just look more calmer and more confident, comfortable? What’s happening for you out there?

CJ GUNN: I think it’s just how much I watch the game and study the game. Coach made an emphasis that I need to be more in tune with what we’re doing on both sides of the floor. Being upstairs with Walsh and Jordy, just going over film consistently, that obviously brings me more comfort in the game.

Xavier, Mike Woodson was pretty blunt in his assessment of your game in Wednesday. Said you kind of were irritated that you didn’t get to play more. Were you motivated with this one or was you success being a step healthier from coming back? What was the mindset coming into this game?

XAVIER JOHNSON: I was definitely motivated. I haven’t been myself lately. I’ve been off for a month, so I was trying to find a rhythm in that game. I was doing a little bit too much on the offensive end.

Tonight I let the game to myself. I trusted my coaching staff, my teammates to make the right play.

Xavier, Malik played great in the second half. What did you do to get him unlocked? What did he do himself to get unlocked?

XAVIER JOHNSON: I think I’ll let coach take all that credit. He told me — when we went back to the locker room we told him, you got to pick your game up. You’re not playing as well. Malik responded. I just told him, I’ll find you. I’ll hit you in the pocket passes and go score the ball, and he did.

X, after Wednesday night, you guys had 19 turnovers; tonight four. You played 34 minutes. Didn’t have any. How much of that going into this game was we just need to be better with the ball and how much does it matter that that zero is on your stat sheet?

XAVIER JOHNSON: That’s a big emphasis. That’s something that you rarely see from me, honestly. I’m an aggressive guard. I got to grow up, and I grew up tonight and got to keep growing up and not turn over the ball because my team needs me to make the right play every time.

CJ, I wanted to ask you about X. Went through the injury last year and had to do all that stuff again the last month. How hard did you see him work to come back from the latest injury, and what do you think a game like tonight can do?

CJ GUNN: He’s been working hard every single day. He’s hungry for this and we’re counting on him. Even though he was out with his injury we were here to pick him up. He’s our captain, our guard, so we all look to him for leadership, and he’s done an absolutely amazing role doing that.

He is going to help us lead us through this BigTen and hopefully win the championship.

Following up on that, how challenging mentally has the last month and a half looked for you?

XAVIER JOHNSON: It’s been challenging. A lot of people don’t know I had a crack in my foot that kept me away from basketball. The month has been challenging. I tried to stay in it with my teammates, conditioning up. Just tried to be a positive impact on the team even though I’m not playing.

Xavier, Coach said he was pretty hard on you the other day after that game.

XAVIER JOHNSON: Shoot, that’s every day. (Laughter.)

CJ GUNN: Boy, every day.

Yes. Did you feel you were out of rhythm coming back the other day, and how different did you feel today?

XAVIER JOHNSON: You know, I did feel like I was out of rhythm. Only had — as coach said, I only had a couple practices, and those practices we didn’t really play as much because the guys already game back from a game and I didn’t play and they had to get being back — get their bodies back right.

I can’t make that excuse though. I’m a sixth-year guy. The team and Coach Woodson expects a lot out of me, and I’m going to give everything I got from the rest of the year on out.

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Drew Rosenberg is staff writer for and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew is a senior, studying Sports Media and will graduate from the Indiana University Media School in the spring of 2024.