IU take-aways: Indiana 68, Minnesota 56

Trayce Jackson-Davis responded in a big way.

Aside from senior De’Ron Davis’ career scoring night, there wasn’t much positive for Indiana to take away from its road trip to Michigan.

But one player, in particular, was glaringly absent.

The Hoosiers’ leading scorer, free-throw-maker, rebounder, shot-blocker, and all-around most talented player, freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, was just 2-of-3 from the field.

“Like I told him after we got done with Michigan, you can’t be the best player on any given night and for whatever reason you don’t feel like traveling with us,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “You are going to have to travel with us to Minnesota.”

The 6-foot-9 forward more than showed up.

With 27 points and 16 rebounds, both career highs, Jackson-Davis was everything the Hoosiers needed. He was fed early, engaged in the offense for a quick six points in the first four minutes. He then kept his energy up, attacking, crashing the boards for second-chance opportunities.

Jackson-Davis had already arrived as a star for IU this season. But he needed to show up on the road in a bigger way, especially as the Hoosiers search for every resume-building win they can down the backstretch of this season. Miller referred to Jackson-Davis’ statistical line Wednesday as “serious numbers,” and he believed the Hoosier big man deserved more respect for his productivity.

“He’s been a bright spot for us all season,” Miller said. “I think he’s the freshman of the year in the league. He’s my guy. Tonight, he delivered.”

Jackson-Davis has been so good, Miller has often said he can’t be passive like some freshmen. He’s the top guy on the other team’s scouting report for a reason. IU needs him in moments like these, and they need him to be assertive.

It’s no coincidence that all eight times Jackson-Davis has reached double figures in rebounds, it’s led to a double-double. His activity level without the ball drives his success.

But IU’s backcourt also needed to do a better job of getting him involved, which they did. Miller credited less “freelancing” in transition, slowing it down at times, for keeping Jackson-Davis involved in the game.

“Our guards did a really good job of keeping things under control. On the road, keeping things close is important in this league,” Miller said. “But he had to do his part, too. At times he doesn’t post hard, at times he’s not as engaged. he’s playing 35 minutes, he’s a young guy on the road, it’s hard. But he was engaged tonight.”

Sweet home, Minnesota. Race is coming home to you.

The first time Race Thompson returned to his home state with the cream and crimson, the 6-8 forward was just coming off a long hiatus due to a concussion.

He still made the most of his seven minutes at The Barn in 2019, collecting five rebounds and a pair of blocks.

This time around, the redshirt sophomore had more opportunity, logging a career-high 25 minutes. He made the most of every second, again, racking up nine points and 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers.

“I play every game the same. I just want to do everything I can to win the game,” Thompson said. “Today, had a little bit more impact on the game scoring-wise, rebounding. Just coming home to Minnesota means a little bit more to me, so it gives me a little extra adrenaline going into this game.”

It was an inspired performance, but it’s become typical of Thompson. His energy level and physicality underneath were instrumental in wins over Michigan State and Iowa. When he’s been unavailable or less than 100 percent, as was the case immediately following a fall versus the Spartans, the absence of what he brings has been noticeable.

He was a plus-21 in Minneapolis. He was a plus-16 versus Iowa. Those were each teams highs.

“Race is a blue-collar guy, man. He plays hard,” Miller said. “He’s our most physical guy, just in terms of being able to put his body in front of people. You saw tonight three or four times around the basket. He’s just in the right position, he walls up, he keeps his arms straight, he doesn’t foul.”

Thompson is also the Hoosiers’ best rebounder per minute played. He’s pulling down .294 rebounds per minute (83 in 282), ahead of Jackson Davis’ .277 rate (209 in 754) and Joey Brunk’s .263 (143 in 543).

“We need him,” Miller said. “Now that he’s been back, against Iowa, he was really good. Nobody was any good Sunday. But tonight he bounced back and had another one.”

Limiting mistakes was key.

While most things were not great at Michigan, one positive followed to Minnesota.

In Ann Arbor, the Hoosiers turned the ball over seven times. They followed that up with just 10 errors on Wednesday.

In four games prior to Michigan, IU turned the ball over 15.3 times per game. Upping the tempo is one thing, but doing it in a reckless fashion is another.

“On the road, the conditions have been a little bit too slick, and we are driving too fast, and the next thing you know, the game gets away from us,” Miller said. “Ten turnovers is what I’m most proud of on the road.”

Along with fewer mistakes on the offensive end, the Hoosiers also seemed to simplify their plan defensively. They weren’t “jumping” ball screens as hard, something that put IU’s players out of position at Michigan too often.

“Really helped us getting back to our man,” Jackson-Davis said, “because we weren’t so far out and we had help on the backside that we didn’t have at Michigan for the roll guy.”

What’s next?

Penn State, 12 p.m. Sunday, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

It was undoubtedly a boost for IU to claim its first road win since Jan. 18 at Nebraska, relaxing some pressure to win every home game in pursuit of an NCAA tournament berth.

Then again, the Hoosiers (17-9, 7-8 Big Ten) have to take advantage of home court whenever they get it.

All four of their wins over ranked opponents have come at Assembly Hall, and they nearly had a fifth in a one-point loss to Maryland. Now the No. 9 Nittany Lions come to Bloomington, with their eight-game winning streak snapped Tuesday by Illinois.

PSU (20-6, 10-5) was without guard Myreon Jones for the fourth straight game. The sophomore is tied for 10th in the Big Ten in scoring (14.1 ppg) with Jackson-Davis. Regardless of whether he suits up, the Lions have the conference’s fourth-best point producer in Lamar Stevens.

They also lead the league in steals per game (8.0).

13 comments

  1. Hey, can we cater the home cookin’ at ‘The Barn’ back to Skjodt’s ‘House of No Fowl?’ I really don’t have a taste for chicken. Instead of fowl or gopher on a stick…maybe some homegrown lion ribs from Mount Nittany? Careful, Durham…Keep your elbows off the table and into the ribs!

    Call 1-800-Yum-Rock. That’s 1-800-Yum-Rock. Place your order today! No finer home cookin’…..

    You know what they do to you if you whip a Nittany Lion from Happy Valley? Torture Chambers.

  2. Did you hear Skjodt Hall ran out of chicken fingers at the concession stand last night?

    Concession stand lady got real smart-alecky with me, “It’s not like the first time a ‘fowl’ couldn’t be found for a Hoosier.”

  3. So I’ve always thought that Race was part of our best 5, even last year… I’ve been waiting for him to get healthy. Brunk is simply awkward. Useful, but awkward. Davis is even slightly more useful than Brunk to me at this point… but now, if Race can stay healthy, they’re just luxury depth up front.

    Race is a far better offensive player. He has shown some real ability to finish in transition, he can work in the post a little bit, is a decent passer, sets good screens, and has by far the best stroke of any of the bigs… he’s the best FT shooter and can step out and knock down 3’s.

    Defensively he holds his ground, is excellent in help-and-recover situations, and is a physical rebounder…

    Most importantly, he fits the best next to TJD… Race is comfortable and useful anywhere on the court, whereas Joey and DeRon just clog up the area that Trayce best operates in. It’s no coincidence that their best games came in unison.

    Our future success to me looks like:
    TJD + Race = 60 minutes
    Justin + Hunter = 45 minutes
    Rob + Al = 55 minutes
    Green = 5-20 minutes depending…
    Joey + Davis = 20 minutes
    Armaan = whatever Green doesn’t deserve

    1. Best chemistry on the team is displayed between Davis and Race. Also they both are what I’d call versatile scorers. Also believe better D results from their chemistry. If Hunter can raise his achievements just a little, more positives will result through March. What a block he made in the Barn. A play expected when playing for the C & C. 2nd only to Davis I really like how DD moves in the post to score.

  4. Here’s something to ponder and to ponder seriously!!! Could a 1-time waiver rule be ‘death of college basketball’? After news broke earlier this week that a one-time waiver rule could be implemented throughout college sports, potentially as early as next season, basketball coaching staffs began scouring rosters of those programs a level down, preparing their lists to fill inevitable holes on their own team. There’s a reason why this is already being supported by the Big Ten and the ACC. Now guys like Mike Krzyzewski, Roy Williams, John Calipari, Bill Self and Tom Izzo can plug holes in their roster with ease. There’s also a reason none of those coaches have spoken out publicly.
    They know how much of an advantage it’ll be for them. “I think it will adversely affect everybody except for the top programs,” Richmond’s Chris Mooney said.
    Mooney is in a precarious spot. After struggling the last two seasons, the Spiders are 20-6, 10-3 in A-10 play and are set up to return five junior starters off this year’s team — four of which have eclipsed 1,000 career points. However, he is well-aware that guys like Blake Francis, Jacob Gilyard, Grant Golden and Nick Sherod could all be pursued heavily by high-major programs if this rule goes into place prior to next season.
    What can he do to try and combat it?
    Nothing..

    1. I wanted to put a 1-year scissor waiver on Joey Brunk’s hair. Death of college basketball? I’m more concerned with the Death of the Last Walton Hippy. Who in their right mind would allow Trevor Lawrence to chop off his Fabio mop in mid-season? That’s just askin’ for trouble. I want an investigation into who forced the Brunk into the barbaric barber of Bloomington. Who did that to the poor kid, Sweeney Todd Leary?
      I don’t want to be too superstitious…but I hope those same scissors aren’t awaiting Archie’s next coaching contract extension. Chop-chop.

    2. tjT,
      You raise a very frightening scenario for the future of not just college basketball, but quite possible college sports. I think the only positive outcome I can see down the road is the possible demise of the ncaa as we know it. I believe the ncaa has become very outdated and a new form of governance is needed for college athletics. At this point, it is nothing more than a toothless tiger where certain schools are concerned, and if it is no more than this, what good is the ncaa?

      The only schools it can discipline are those who allow themselves to be disciplined. The schools which refuse to be disciplined simply lawyer up and the intimidated ncaa slinks away quietly into the night. They know full well their track record in court is dismal. How can this be an effective governing body?

      1. May be overreacting a bit….Keep in mind it’s a “one-time” waiver rule.
        Also keep in mind that it hasn’t been approved yet.
        Changing colleges is still a major disruption in a life….Also keep in mind that a college choice goes beyond who can offer what appears to be the most playing time or what may seem (“seem” being a very critical word here) the easiest pathway to a championship or Final Four.
        Let’s take Race Thompson for example…What motivated Race to choose Indiana when his family had such strong ties to Minnesota? All I hear is how irrelevant we are….Surely, it had to be more than the banners and fast opportunity to be playing deep into March. And once a kid gets more familiarity with his teammates and his coach (aside from the early love affair that may have prompted a decision more than simply basketball), does the 1-time waiver really look that appealing?
        Personally, I don’t have a problem with the waiver. If a young man…or young woman is wanting a change, then allow them to have such an opportunity without penalty. You can’t ‘ lawyer up’ loyalty.
        Let’s also remember how some very unscrupulous coaches push scholarship players off a team. Crean was operating under a player ‘Bill of Rights’ but was he really…? I think of kids like Roth, Remy, Mo Creek, Hollowell, Patterson (supposed bad grade during summer) and others (some of the A-Hope projects) all of who supposedly left “voluntarily” and were forced to sit out a year wherever they re-signed (if they re-signed). Was that fair….? And here was a great kid like Matt Roth; a sharpshooter, a kid with a one major skill his own, a kid who had battled through injuries with one year of eligibility still left and Crean left him hanging out to dry. Roth never received a phone call from his coach despite his loyalty to our program. He doesn’t deserve a one-time waiver? I would have loved to see Matt Roth find a neighboring Midwestern program (even one from our own conference) and suiting up in the fall after Crean didn’t ask him back.
        And for those who advocate the destruction of amateur athletics by paying teenagers far and above the value of a scholarship, I’d say don’t ask for too much or you might just get it.
        If we’re talking highest bidder for a jock, what’s the difference in having a waiver? The sport will have already been ruined and we’ll be talking million dollar salary caps for kids just crawling out of puberty. Can’t wait for my kid to in their high school classroom….”There’s zit-faced Tyler…He’ll be getting $500,000 to play for Archie next year. Now, the rest of you, please open your American History book to page 130 of Chapter Ten. Today we’ll be talking about the Battle of Bull Run. Don’t worry about it, Tyler. You have a one-time waiver to not give a rat’s ass about any of this.”

        Let’s worry about winning some basketball while we still have basketball. Our storied high school SINGLE tournament was destroyed over 20 years ago….We’re gonna soon be paying huge bucks to guys we already consider undisciplined and prima donnas on disjointed rosters. We have brawls that get slaps on the wrist if a participating school is “elite” …Meanwhile, the national media drags a 3-way caller through the ESPN Salem Witch Trials for little ol’ Indiana.

        Let’s get real….College basketball is already a Shih Tzu show. I’ve been ‘waving’ goodbye to college basketball since long ago. I find myself cheering more and more for the little guy. Loyola of Chicago was the highlight of my March Madness bigger than anything from the last 20 years. My love affair has always been with the underdog…and, somehow, there will always be one (even in the most corrupted of systems) that will win my heart.

        And if nothing has been ruined in the last 33 years, what’s our excuse? For most of those 33 years, it’s been amateur athletics…For most of those 33 years, it’s been as equally unfair as it’s always been. What caused the death of us …before the “death of college basketball?” Was all of our bad choices (and some bad luck) due to a “governing body?” Yes, it was. The majority of our problems was due to the Indiana University governing body…Those who’ govern’ coaching decisions…Those who ‘govern’ in committee rooms…Those who ‘govern’ in big politics in Indy who then get big jobs in AD departments at IU because they know so much about ‘governing’ that they bring a coach like Tom Crean to Indiana.

        Love it while you’re alive enough to enjoy it. Many a passionate Hoosier fan who cheered in 1987 and believing they were on the same old rocket ship in watching banner landings every five years….have long passed into the gentle and quiet night. They’re dead. My biggest worry is getting a 1-time waiver into heaven before hell can dig through my entire transcripts. Bigger fish to fry. Climate change should also get a 1-time waiver. It’s now or never.

  5. I’ve always loved your sense of humor….

    Brunk was on the brink to being BigTen Player of the Year-ning until he chopped off his hair. Now he’s shelved himself more than Tom Pritchard’s butler pantry.
    A Walton headband and a hook shot may have been able to save his game….Where have all the flowers gone, [Kingston Trio?] Where have all the hook shots gone?
    For a while, Brunk was rollin’ better than Mitch McGary taking a Final Four balls in his last two frames at The Westchester Lanes and Cannabis Depot in Chesterton….but I digress.

    Feel bad for Brunk….I think The Rock put a voodoo spell on him. He ain’t been right since Rock gave him a 10-20 year sentence and a haircut for a love tap to the back of a galloping Spartan on white horse.

    Geoff- Do you know of “The Rock”….? He’s fantastic here, I say. Or is it fantastic hearsay? Anyway, very entertaining and he knows his hoops. He’s far better than any of the mouth fungus you have growing over at ‘Inside the Halitosis.’
    The Rock is quite the prognosticator… He makes boulder predictions than most.

    Eat more lobster!

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