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Scouting Notes: Morehead State



Indiana basketball vs Morehead State
A deep dive into Morehead State and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Tuesday's matchup. (Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana basketball returns to the court on Tuesday night for a home matchup with Morehead State, the first of two games this week.

Morehead State comes in led by head coach Preston Spradlin in his eighth season. The Eagles come in 8-3 overall thus far this season. Morehead State is a team that loves to play in the hall court and slow down the tempo. It ranks 142nd in offensive efficiency with a rating of 106.5. Defensively, it ranks 192nd in efficiency with a rating of 105.9. Overall, Morehead State ranks 155th in the KenPom ratings.

Here is a deep dive into some of the challenges Morehead State could give the Indiana basketball program.

Key Players

Former NAIA All-American Riley Minix leads the Eagles in scoring and rebounding this season and has been phenomenal in all aspects. At 6-foot-7 and 230 pounds, Minix has a lot of versatility to his game. It starts on the block and in the paint, however. He loves to play through contact and seeks it out. On the season, he’s attempting a team-high 3.3 free throws per game and is shooting 86.1 percent from the foul line. Minix has good quickness and footwork to finish around defenders at the rim. He’s not overly long or athletic, so his footwork makes up for it. He has the versatility to step out on the perimeter. He’s shooting just 28.9 percent from three but attempting four 3s per game. He also has the ability to get the defensive rebound and lead the transition game. On both ends of the floor he’s a very strong rebounder. While he’s not going to blow by anyone in a full court setting, the Indiana basketball bigs need to be conscious of him when he starts to get out in the open floor. He had 19 points against Alabama this season and 18 against Purdue.

Jordan Lathon is a physical wing who loves to get into the paint and finish at the rim. Despite having a terrific frame, he isn’t someone who seeks out contact as he has great body control and typically uses his athleticism to move or glide around defenders when attacking the rim. Lathon is a drive-first wing and uses that quick and powerful first step to get the defense to sag off. He’s shooting 42.2 percent on 1.7 made 3s per game. The ball is going to be in his hands a lot — second-highest usage rate on the roster behind Minix — but typically he’s looking to score. He has 19 assists to 20 turnovers this season.

In the backcourt with Lathon is another bigger guard in Drew Thelwell. Thelwell is a very good distributor for an offense that has numerous weapons. He’s 2nd in the OVC in assist rate (27.3) and first in assists per game (5.0). Thelwell does a tremendous job at setting the pace in every game. He is quick and can get the team out in transition but also knows when to slow things down. 56.3 percent of his shot attempts this season are coming from behind the arc — connecting on 38.8 percent. He’s typically a better shooter off of the catch than off the dribble.

On the wing is another bigger guard, at 6-foot-5, in Kalil Thomas. Thomas is almost entirely a three-point shooter. 73.2 percent of his attempts this season have been 3s. 29 of his 44 made baskets have been 3s as well. He’s shooting 43.9 percent with 2.6 made 3s per game. He’s made at least three 3s in seven games this season and attempted seven or more 3s in five games. Thomas is a good rebounder, but most of that is done on the defensive glass.

Up front with Minix is Dieonte Miles. He’s a physical player who is best rebounding the ball and is limited to paint touches. He has good hands and nice length that allows him to finish over the top of defenders. But, scoring is not what Miles is on the floor for. He ranks 2nd in the OVC in offensive rebound percentage (15.2) and is fourth in block percentage (5.3). Miles spent three years with Xavier in a very limited role but does has the size and physicality to compete at the power five level.

Eddie Ricks is terrific off of the bench for Morehead State. He’s a 6-foot-7 wing who has good athleticism and is a physical player who likes to get downhill. Ricks is averaging 8.0 points and 5.9 rebounds per game in 22.8 minutes. He plays with an extremely high motor and is always in the middle of the action. He’s a terrific offensive rebounder as well. Ricks has the ability to be a perimeter player — shooting 36.7 percent on 3s — but isn’t a super high volume shooter from three, just 2.7 attempts per game.

Key Tendencies

Morehead State is going to slow the game down and use half court sets for its main action. A lot of the Eagles’ action is off of dribble-drives, so it’s going to be a lot of one-on-one defense for Indiana basketball. If there is any help, look for the Eagles to find the open shooter(s) on the perimeter. Five different players are attempting about three 3s per game — with four players shooting at least 37 percent. They attempt 24.8 3s per game and are making 9.2 3s a game — with over a third of the team’s points coming from behind the arc. Indiana basketball will have opportunities to get out in the open floor, however. The Eagles average 14 turnovers per game with five opponents totaling seven or more steals this season. There will be a lot of high-risk, high-reward options with Morehead State offensively and if Indiana can find some easy transition opportunities, it’ll take a lot of pressure off of a sometimes struggling half court offense.

Defensively, the Eagles are holding opponents to just 38.2 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from three — despite 23 attempts per game from opponents. They don’t turn over opponents a lot, at least consistently, ranking 327th overall in turnover percentage. One area that Indiana basketball will need to — and likely — take advantage of is getting to the foul line. Morehead State is allowing nearly a third of opponents points on the season from the free throw line.

Overall, Indiana basketball will have the chances to utilize its transition game and secondary break, it’s a matter of if they’ll be able to. If the Hoosiers don’t win the transition game or get to the foul line, it’s going to be a lot closer of a game than it can be. Indiana basketball will have size advantages in the front court again, but it’ll be up to the guards to get them the ball. Because of the size and length on the wings for the Eagles, it’ll put pressure on IU’s backcourt to get the ball in the post. 66.4 percent of Morehead State’s points per game come from its backcourt and perimeter players. Indiana’s backcourt needs to show up on Tuesday.

Projected Starters

G – Jordan Lathon (Senior; 6-4, 200)

Stats: 12.5 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.7 apg, 42.2% 3pt

G – Drew Thelwell (Junior; 6-3, 180)

Stats: 11.8 ppg, 5.0 apg, 38.8% 3pt

G – Kalil Thomas (Senior; 6-5, 190)

Stats: 11.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 43.9% 3pt

F – Riley Minix (Senior; 6-7, 230)

Stats: 17.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 1.3 bpg

F – Dieonte Miles (Senior; 6-10, 220)

Stats: 5.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.0 bpg

Key Notes

  • +25 average scoring margin during their current six game winning streak
  • This is the best start to a season in program history since 1968-69
  • The Eagles have shot 50 percent or better in five consecutive games
  • Indiana basketball is 6-0 all-time against Morehead State, with a 31-point win last season

SEE ALSO: ‘The winds have shifted towards’ Indiana basketball in recruitment of key 2024 5-star target

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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.