Focus is on big men when Maryland visits Indiana
Two of the emerging frontcourt players in the Big Ten square off Friday night when Indiana and Maryland meet in the conference opener for both teams in Bloomington, Ind.
Seven-foot sophomore Kel'el Ware leads Indiana (5-1) in points (17.7), rebounds (8.8), blocks (1.7) and steals (1.0) per game, while 6-foot-9 junior Julian Reese of Maryland (4-3) averages 15.0 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.6 blocks.
Both are coming off strong performances. In an 89-76 win over Harvard on Sunday, Ware had a career-high 28 points, hitting 12 of 13 shots from the floor, including his lone 3-point try.
Ware has made huge strides after averaging 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds last season as a wide-eyed freshman reserve at Oregon. He also has shown progression this season as he has risen to coach Mike Woodson's challenge to work closer to the basket.
"In the UConn game (on Nov. 19), he didn't play hard enough. I'm not saying he is the reason we lost, but he just did not play hard enough," Woodson said. "It was kind of nice to see him respond."
Reese's last outing was a 22-point, 12-rebound, four-block performance in Maryland's 103-76 domination of Rider on Tuesday night.
The junior had a double-double by halftime and finished 14-of-17 from the free-throw line, where he has improved vastly from his sophomore year, when he made 53.3 percent of his attempts.
"May 2 is when we started working on it," Maryland coach Kevin Willard said. "That's him putting in the work, the whole summer at 8 a.m. with me. And it's not a whole lot of fun being with me."
Against Rider, Maryland also got 22 points from Jahmir Young and 15 points on 6-of-6 shooting from Jordan Geronimo, an Indiana transfer who goes up against his old team on Friday.
"Jordan Geronimo is playing with tremendous energy," Willard said.
Indiana hopes that its redshirt senior point guard Xavier Johnson can bring the energy on Friday. He missed the second half of the Harvard game and remains questionable for Maryland, Woodson said on Thursday.
Malik Reneau also has emerged for the Hoosiers, averaging 15.3 points per game, up from 6.1 as a freshman.
--Field Level Media
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