On 3 or not on 3? It’s not a question Indiana has had to worry about…yet| Sports

When it comes to Indiana men’s basketball and the 3-point shot, the relationship between the two could be described as in the friend zone.

So far, Indiana No. 11 hasn’t had to fall in love with the 3-point shot or even acknowledge that he needs it as a part of his life.

In four of the five wins Indiana has amassed, the Hoosiers have had a significant size and/or ability advantage over their opponents. They will do it again when Jackson State visits Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at 12:30 p.m. Friday to wrap up the three-game Hoosier Classic.

Only in last Friday’s 81-79 win at Xavier did Indiana face a physical challenge, but even then — thanks to Trayce Jackson-Davis’ excellence and his 30 points — the Hoosiers still only had to attempt 12 3-pointers.

At some point, however, Indiana will no longer be able to afford to keep the 3-point shot in the friend zone. An opponent will come along to force the Hoosiers to fall in love with the perimeter.

Will it be a compatible relationship? Wednesday’s game against Little Rock offered two sides of a different coin.

Indiana struggled in the first half, making just 1 of 7 from long range before halftime. After the break, however, the Hoosiers were up 5-of-10.

“Last year guys we were one of the best teams in the country when it came to getting wide open 3s and we just didn’t get them. We’ll get our fair share of looks. We just have to put them down,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said.

Part of putting them down on Wednesday was point guard Xavier Johnson, who did a good job of finding shooters – both transitioning and distracting defenders from his dribbling penetration.

Johnson assisted at three of Indiana’s five 3-pointers in the second half, and he made one of the 3-pointers himself.

The catch with Indiana is that it really hasn’t had to shoot many 3s, so it’s hard to know how reliable the perimeter is. Indiana’s 17 3-point attempts per contest puts it squarely near the bottom of Division I.

Still, the underlying numbers aren’t discouraging. Indiana converted 36.4% from afar, which places the Hoosiers in the top third of teams in the nation.

Indiana’s most famous 3-pointer, Miller Kopp, was also much more accurate. The senior has made 52.1% of his shots. Kopp made 36.7% in 2022.

“Miller was at the back end where he was a lot of 3 seconds wide open on the transition and he made some tonight which is tremendous for our team,” Woodson said.

Woodson was asked if he’s worried the Hoosiers won’t have the 3-point shot in their quiver when they need it.

“Every college coach worries about making 3s when they have shots. My thing is if we have good shots and take good shots, I feel good when they go in,” Woodson said.

“You have to do them against teams that you think we should beat and you have to do them against teams that are on the frontier teams, teams that are a good fit for us like North Carolina and some of the top teams . Yes, I would hope that we will make it. But only time will tell.”

In Jackson State, Indiana (5-0) meets a team that knows the road all too well.

The Tigers, Indiana’s second Southwestern Athletic Conference opponent this season, are yet to play a home game. In fact, Jackson State (0-4) won’t be playing on its home turf until January 7th.

Jackson State’s 14-road game odyssey takes in seven different states, although one of the games is taking place near home — a neutral court competition in Jackson, Mississippi, against the state of Mississippi.

Jackson State lost 78-68 to Michigan on Wednesday. The Tigers equaled the Wolverines with a second-half 41-41, reducing a top deficit from 21 to six late in the contest.

Despite being winless, Jackson State has not lost more than 10 to any of its opponents. Guard Gabe Watson, who scored 14 goals in Jackson State’s 70-35 loss to Indiana in the 2021-22 season, is back and he scored 19 goals against Michigan. Guard Ken Evans (16.5) leads the Tigers in points.

It’s possible Jackson-Davis could be back on Friday after being ruled out of Wednesday’s game as a precaution, although Woodson had hinted Jackson-Davis could return.

Indiana plays No. 1 North Carolina next Wednesday and wants all the players on deck.