Indiana downs Tennessee Tech in opener, 89-59

Traveling through the air at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall were the whispers of recorded crowd noise, almost as if the ghost of a once-furious arena was trying to communicate from the other side.

The chairs that made up Indiana and Tennessee Tech’s benches were two-deep, staggered, and spaced apart. Both IU’s Archie Miller and Tech’s Marcus King — the latter filling in for actual head coach John Pelphrey, who had tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week — barked their orders through masks.

By the end of Wednesday night, IU had its first win of the season, 89-59. There was no getting around the fact that this was different, but at least college basketball was back.

“It’s going to be different, it really is,” Miller said postgame. “The energy level, the juice in the building, the crowd. It’s a different feeling for your team.”

Luckily, IU (1-0) got enough energy from its star, sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis, who produced 26 points and 11 rebounds. Junior point guard Rob Phinisee, with 12 points, and freshman guard Trey Galloway, with 13 points, also finished in double figures.

Nine of the 10 IU regulars who saw the floor scored, as the Hoosiers were without center Joey Brunk due to a sore back. IU hit 56.9 percent from the field, while Tennessee Tech (0-1) was held to 40.4 percent shooting and were forced into 20 turnovers.

IU will open with Providence at the Maui Invitational, hosted this year in Asheville, N.C., this coming Monday. This was the Hoosiers’ only warmup, because they didn’t get a scrimmage or an exhibition before Wednesday’s game.

“We got it out of the way,” Miller said. “I’m glad college basketball is up and running. It’s a good thing.”

As was probably expected in the Hoosiers’ first outing, it took some time to separate from Tennessee Tech. The Golden Eagles briefly took a 13-12 lead following a 3 from Austin Harvell, though IU quickly reclaimed it with a triple from Jerome Hunter.

Leading 17-13 with 10:13 left in the half, IU went off on a 20-0 run. It started with six straight points from Jackson-Davis, who racked up 14 points and seven boards before half.

One of those buckets came off of the 6-foot-9 forward’s own miss on an and-1 free throw.

“It’s definitely different,” Jackson-Davis said of an empty Assembly Hall. “At the beginning of the game, I started out sluggish and slow. You’ve got to create your own energy, and I just got energy off my teammates, and created my own.”

Phinisee, who had 10 points at half, hit his first two 3-pointers, flashing what Miller has touted as an improved stroke. The freshman Galloway was also active, hitting all four of his first-half shots on transition baskets.

IU took a 48-19 lead into intermission, along with a 21-of-35 (60 percent) success rate from the floor. The Golden Eagles were just 8-of-30 (26.7 percent) from the floor with 13 turnovers.

Jackson-Davis started the second half by hitting his first three shots, including a jumper just inside of the 3-point line, which is a shot he’s been working on. Hunter, playing the four alongside Jackson-Davis in some lineups, showed he was round out his game, as well, smoothly hitting a jumper at the free throw line.

Just like in the first half, Miller continued to play all four freshmen. While Anthony Leal missed the first 3-point attempt of his career, on the next possession he found Jackson-Davis for a one-handed dunk to make it 67-38. Lander continued to rotate in for Phinisee at the point, allowing Al Durham to mostly play off the ball.

Durham hit a 3-pointer to push the Hoosiers’ lead to 76-44. Jordan Geronimo scored the first points of his Hoosier career with 3:26 left on an underneath basket. Galloway scored on a transition dunk to make it 83-54, IU. His first 11 points were all in transition.

“He definitely is one of the best players we have, without question, in transition,” Miller said.

Miller’s one concern with a more perimeter-oriented team was the Hoosiers’ rebounding. They finished the game with just a 36-33 edge on the glass.

“That’s the biggest concern going to Asheville,” Miller said. “In that type of field, that’s what we’re going to be up against, rebounding.”

6 comments

  1. Those freshman played really well together when they were all on the court. That was impressive for game one of their careers.

  2. Interesting game last night. I’m impressed with these freshman as well. They are going to provide a nice foundation as they grow and get ready for B1G play.

    TJD has a nice jumper now. Uh-oh. Kid can shoot and looked confident with it. Same with Jerome Hunter. People have said JH had a nice turn-around jumper in high school, so was nice to see it last night.

    Al Durham still can’t hit open 3s. He has a nice stroke, but someone just needs to get in his head. Al, read “The Inner Game of Tennis!” You’re in your head, man!!

    Everything here I say is to be held lightly. It is really hard to see the future after such a weird start to the season. You can see that every team across college basketball is still getting our legs. But, it felt like the tempo went up a few notches vs the first years of AM’s reign. I think we have the personnel to run this year.

  3. Also, there’s something healing about watching the Hoosiers suit up and play last night. I had started the shelter in place a week before the B1G tournament, but that one night everything changed. That surreal moment of watching the Hoosiers play Nebraska with Hoiberg on the sideline looking like death and the NBA cancelling the season. All at once, collectively, we had to take in the fact that a really big sh*t storm was headed our way.

    Talk about thankful. Glad that all of you here have made it through the year. Hope your families are well and continue to do well. Let’s hope this is the beginning of the end of this craziness.

    Love to all of you.

  4. Not a basketball overload yet and confusing time with bb (men’s & women) and fb and IU teams looking up.

    Indy Star has a listing of the Hoosier guys on Division One teams. 153 of them.

    My impression of the freshmen — IU’s play seemed smoother ( ?) when they entered the game. By-product of playing AAU together ?

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