With every basketball game that Indiana plays this season we will take a look at three things to watch that could be important for that game.
Here are the three keys for today's game with Kennesaw State:
1. BUILD MOMENTUM
After today Indiana will have nine days off before facing Illinois in the Big Ten opener on New Year's Eve in Champaign, Ill. This is the last chance to build any momentum going into conference play. Friday night, the Hoosiers picked up a 79-66 win over Nicholls State but 20 turnovers made it hard for the Hoosiers to get the kind of momentum it was looking to achieve. Kennesaw State should not be a particularly formidable opponent. The Owls are 3-9 and two of those wins came against Warren Wilson and Truett-McConnell. In other words, the Hoosiers should win and put up a big number in doing so. But what can come from a game like this, if the Hoosiers can play well, is another tape that they can dissect and view between now and the Illinois game.
2. HANDLE THE BALL BETTER
Probably the most frustrating thing with the Nicholls State game was the fact that the Hoosiers had so many unforced errors. The 20 turnovers was a season high. Indiana turned it over eight times in the first seven minutes. It did a couple of things to the IU team. It made it so the Hoosiers couldn't get great separation from Nicholls State and it just disrupted the flow. Yogi Ferrell had four early turnovers but then settled down and didn't have another one. Indiana averages 15.6 turnovers per game which is last in the Big Ten. And clearly a number that has to improve for IU to be competitive in the conference season. And it's not just one guy either. Seven of IU's top 10 scorers have more turnovers than assists. The exceptions are Yogi Ferrell, Evan Gordon and Austin Etherington. Indiana needs to have a game against Kennesaw State where the turnovers are around 10 or 11 and not near the 20 mark.
3. BEAT UP A CUPCAKE
A lot has been made of Indiana's cupcake non-conference schedule. And while the Hoosiers could clearly benefit from a few more competitive games to get them best prepared for the Big Ten season, the reality is that if you're going to play a lot of teams you should beat soundly, then you need to beat them soundly. And usually, Indiana doesn't have a problem in this area. Friday was the exception when the Hoosiers were close to a 28-point favorite against Nicholls State and settled for a 13-point win. The Hoosiers need to defeat Kennesaw State convincingly in this one.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch