WHEN: Thursday, November 20. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. CT
WHERE: Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
TV/RADIO: Big Ten Network/KAAM 770-AM
SERIES: SMU leads 2-1 (1-1 in Bloomington)
LAST MEETING: Indiana won 56-51 on December 17, 1977 at Assembly Hall
PONY TRENDS: SMU shot a lofty 61 percent in the opener against Lamar, but regressed to 31 percent in the loss to Gonzaga. Forward Ben Moore had another solid performance with 11 points and eight rebounds, but Gonzaga’s size down low gave the Mustangs fits, especially when SMU had the ball. The Bulldogs exploited SMU’s shoddy three-point defense, draining 10 of 24 three-point attempts (41.7 percent). SMU had no answer for guard Kevin Pangos, who made five of those threes. Rebounding did not improve after a shaky effort against Lamar, but SMU did manage to reduce the fouls and limit turnovers.
OPPONENT STRENGTHS: Indiana has talent, but the Hoosiers are young. They do not have a single senior on their roster. But they have great guard depth. Point man Yogi Ferrell might be one of the nation’s most underrated scorers. Ferrell and stud freshman James Blackmon Jr. give the Hoosiers a great one-two punch out of the backcourt. Freshman Robert Johnson is a great third option. All three are great shooters and rebound very well for guards. The Hoosiers also return sophomores Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson from suspension.
Three Players to Watch:
G Yogi Ferrell: Ferrell is the leader of this team, so where he goes, the Hoosiers go. Farrell vs. Nic Moore is a matchup to keep an eye on because both have the ability to score and take over a game. While the 6-0, 178-pound junior has the height advantage, Moore's weight is similar to Farrell's.
G James Blackmon Jr.: The 6-1, 190-pound freshman is the Hoosiers' most talented player and has the highest ceiling. The freshman was a scoring machine in high school and has the ability to light it up from outside or drive it to the paint. If both Ferrell and Blackmon Jr. have big nights, it could mean trouble for the Mustangs.
G Robert Johnson: The 6-3, 195-pound freshman was the Hoosiers' second best recruit behind Blackmon Jr., but not by much. Johnson is another Hoosier guard that has the ability to shoot from pretty much anywhere on the court. The freshman is more of a shooting guard and teams well with Ferrell and Blackmon Jr.
Note: The Hoosiers do not have much size in the front court, but the return of Troy Williams from suspension (2nd failed drug test) will help out.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: The frontcourts. SMU has depth and talent in the frontcourt, but the big men were overmatched by Gonzaga’s size, which limited SMU’s ability to score down low. Thankfully for SMU, Indiana is not very deep in the frontcourt. The Hoosiers went with a four-guard lineup in their first two games, although that could change with Williams’ return. Either way, they do not have the size to match up with SMU’s big men. The Mustangs’ should do to Indiana what Gonzaga did to them. SMU should look to get the ball in the post on every play.
KEYS TO THE GAME: SMU should win the battle in the frontcourt. Indiana does not have much height, and was outrebounded by Texas Southern on Monday. Defending Indiana’s talented guards will be the tough task. Nic Moore will need to bring his ‘A’ game to defend Ferrell, while Justin Martin, Sterling Brown and the other SMU wing defenders will be tasked with defending Blackmon and Johnson. Good three-point defense will be crucial. SMU has not shown well in that area, so it must improve, or the Hoosiers could light up the scoreboard in a hurry. Just like Monday, the Mustangs will play in a loud road environment, so they will need to drown out the noise and avoid getting too emotional so they can execute properly.