Indiana basketball coach Mike Woodson has given Mackenzie Mgbako some tough advice

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BLOOMINGTON — Indiana basketball coach Mike Woodson told reporters after a 72-64 win over Army that true freshman Mackenzie Mgbako “will have to play harder” if he wants to get more minutes.

In the second half, Mgbako checked out after the first press period and did not return to the game. The same thing happened in IU’s season opener against Florida Gulf Coast. He played a total of 16 minutes against the Army (five in the second half) and 18 minutes in his debut.

He has been in the starting lineup for both games.

Mgabko had 2 points on Sunday night while attempting just two shots. He also converted twice, both of which came in the first half.

“He’s got to play harder and do the things we want him to do on both ends of the floor,” Woodson said. “That could keep him in the game.”

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Mgbako was a 2023 McDonald’s All-American after averaging 16.3 points and 9.2 rebounds as a senior for Roselle Catholic. He was a consensus five-star recruit and the No. 10 ranked overall recruit in last year’s class, according to the 247 sports composite rankings.

He signed with Indiana after Duke dropped him from his national letter of intent when Blue Devils forward Kyle Filipowski withdrew from the draft.

While Mgabko was arrested during the session on criminal trespass chargesWoodson chose not to discipline the forward.

“I just want to see more from Mackenzie, more from Kaleb, more from CJ, I want to see more when they’re in the game,” Woodson said. “If I don’t feel like they’re giving it to me I have to I’ll go somewhere else and get it.”

Woodson relied on a three-guard lineup down the field with Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway and Gabe Cupps along with Malik Reneau and Kel’el Ware just as he did in the team’s opener. Cupps, another of IU’s 2023 signees, hit a key 3-pointer with less than two minutes to go. He had five points and two assists.

“I’m going to play guys that want to play and play right away,” Woodson said. “The last two games the little lineup did coming down the stretch was really good for us. I don’t know I don’t know if we’ll live with him for the rest of the season, but if they keep making plays down the stretch I think he’ll be there. OK for us.”

Michael Niziolek is the Indiana beat reporter for The Bloomington Herald-Times. You can follow him on Twitter @mìchealniziolek and read his entire coverage by clicking here.

This article originally appeared on The Herald-Times: IU coach Mike Woodson explains Mackenize Mgbako’s minutes shortage

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