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Scouting Notes: North Alabama



Indiana basketball
A deep dive into North Alabama and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Thursday's matchup. (UNA Athletics)

Indiana basketball returns to the court just two days after a one-point win over Morehead State and hosts North Alabama on Thursday.

North Alabama comes in under sixth-year head coach Tony Pujol with a 6-6 record. The Lions are rated as the 214th team in offensive efficiency with a 103 rating. Defensively they are rated 230th in the country in efficiency with a 107.1 rating. Overall, North Alabama is rated 224th in KenPom’s ratings.

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

Key Players

The offense for North Alabama runs through two players; Jacari Lane and KJ Johnson. Johnson is the leading scorer for the Lions at 13.9 points per game but has come off of the bench over the last few games. He’s a 6-foot-3 senior guard who is very ball dominant. Most of his offense comes off of the dribble or with the ball in his hands. He’s a shifty guard who can create his own shot, but isn’t overly quick. Johnson can get into the paint at will and finish through or around defenders with his craftiness. He’s a scorer — flat out. Johnson leads the team in usage rate and is very efficient in all three levels scoring the ball. He’s shooting 48.8 percent overall, 38.1 percent from three and 76.5 percent from the foul line — a place he gets to nearly six times per game.

Jacari Lane is a sophomore guard who is a burst of speed in a full court of half court setting. Lane is tremendous getting past defenders and into the paint where he can score at the rim, stop on a dime for a mid-range jumper or create for his teammates. Lane is extremely ball dominant as well and is a true shot creator from 15-feet and out. He has tremendous ball handling ability and footwork that allows him the ability to create numerous different scoring situations for himself. He’s a good shooter from three, but not a high-volume shooter, just 1.6 attempted 3s per game. Like Johnson, Lane gets to the line and converts. He’s shooting 83.6 percent from the foul line on 4.6 attempts per game.

In the front court is versatile hybrid forward Tim Smith Jr. Smith is a 6-foot-7 forward who is going to get most of his work done from the perimeter. He’s shooting 43.6 percent on 3.3 attempted 3s per game this year. He’s not a high-volume shooter altogether, with just 6.3 total attempts per game, but his three-point field goal rate would rank second in the A-Sun Conference. Smith is a physical player, however and is always in on the action when the ball hits the rim. He has good length and size and averages two offensive rebounds per game — with an offensive rebound rate that is seventh in the league.

Damian Forrest is a big forward who is a double-double threat every game. Despite his size at 6-foot-10, however, he’s more of a long and lanky forward than a true banger in the post. Forrest has great length, footwork and a soft touch around the basket. Because of his rebound ability, most of his scoring comes from inside of the paint off of misses. Forrest will be utilized in a lot of ball screens and typically be able to crash the glass hard on the roll.

Detalian Brown is another versatile guard who can light it up from the perimeter. He’s shooting 43.2 percent on 3.7 3s per game. 60.1 percent of his shot attempts are from three while 53.3 percent of his made shots have come from three this season. Six of his 16 made 3s this year came against Kansas State. Brown is not going to attack the basket or look for contact — attempting just five free throws all season. The Indiana basketball guards needs to run Brown off of the perimeter in every case.

Related: Indiana Basketball Game Preview: North Alabama – key storylines, injury report, how to watch

Key Tendencies

North Alabama is not an efficient offensive team and its production is heavily influenced by the ability for KJ Johnson and Jacari Lane to create off of the dribble and get into the paint. If they struggle, the offense will struggle. The Lions have an effective field goal rate of just 48.8 percent — 219th in the country — and a 2pt field goal percentage of just 47.5 percent — 260th. Because both Lane and Johnson are score-first type players, the Lions rank 313th in assist rate. They shoot 36.2 percent on 3s as a team, making 7.8 3s per game. When it comes to pacing, the Lions will push the tempo when it has the opportunity, but is also content living in the half court with their guards. Indiana needs to do a good job at limiting the deep penetration from Lane and Johnson and force the ball into other’s hands. There isn’t enough consistency in creating their own shots from anyone else on the roster for Indiana basketball to not force that.

Defensively, North Alabama fouls, fouls and fouls again. It ranks 323rd in foul rate, averaging nearly 20 fouls per game. Indiana basketball gets 23.9 percent of its points from the foul line each game — 25th most in the country — while North Alabama opponents average 23.1 per game. Indiana needs to get to the foul line — and unlike in the first half on Tuesday, convert. The Lions have very little size to impact the bigs of Indiana, so there needs to be a point of emphasis to get the ball in the paint.

Overall, this is the third-lowest rated team Indiana has played this season and the lowest remaining team on the schedule. Indiana needs to find a way to assert itself early — something it hasn’t done in seemingly every game this year.

Projected Starters

G – Jacari Lane (Sophomore; 6-0, 178)

Stats: 13.4 ppg, 4.4 apg, 1.2 spg, 36.8% 3pt

G- Detalian Brown (Junior; 6-3, 195)

Stats: 7.9 ppg, 43.2% 3pt

G – Will Soucie (Junior; 6-5, 200)

Stats: 5.3 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 1.2 apg

F- Tim Smith Jr (Senior; 6-7, 230)

Stats: 9.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 43.6% 3pt

F – Damian Forrest (Senior; 6-9, 225)

Stats: 9.6 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 0.7 bpg

Key Notes

  • UNA has four players with over 1,000 career points
  • UNA lost to Morehead State earlier this season, 86-77
  • Indiana is the third P5 opponent UNA has played this year, including a one-point OT loss at Kansas State
  • Indiana is 2-0 all-time in the series

SEE ALSO: Indiana basketball was lifeless until late run sparked major comeback win on Tuesday — but it doesn’t take away the overall performance

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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.