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Three Things: Indiana 79, Stanford 63

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Well, that was better

Nebraska v Indiana Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Indiana concluded a confusing, up-and-down three-day run at the Maui Invitational on Tuesday with a convincing 79-63 win over Stanford in the third-place game of the tournament. The Hoosiers sandwiched two really good efforts around a total stinker, illustrating the ceiling and the floor of this team in the process.

Here are Three Things on the finale:

Total domination by Trayce Jackson-Davis

Not only did the sophomore forward finish with a career-high 31 points, he even got to put Stanford’s Spencer Jones on a poster. Jackson-Davis’ left-handed throwdown off a baseline inbounds lob was a fitting snapshot of this game, one where IU took control in the first couple minutes and never looked back.

Jackson-Davis made much of it possible, sparking IU to its early burst and recording 12 of his points in the first eight minutes. After a fairly uneven start to the tournament — he missed some gimmes against Providence, and just looked off against the Longhorns — Jackson-Davis finished the trip to Asheville with an All-American effort. It was especially good to see after Jackson-Davis’ soft, timid, ambling play against Texas. Eventually, Stanford doubled (and occasionally tripled!) Jackson-Davis down low, slowing him down late in the first half. But Jackson-Davis played through it — and played angry, too. It was exactly what IU hoped to see from its best player before heading back to Bloomington.

Another sophomore quietly had a great game

With Al Durham sidelined with a bad ankle, Indiana needed help in its backcourt. Armaan Franklin not only answered that call, he delivered arguably the best performance of his young career. The sophomore had an impact all over the floor, finishing with 13 points, eight rebounds (!), five assists and one block, playing all 40 minutes in the process. Not only was he aggressive when he put the ball on the floor, he looked confident in doing so. In short, he looked awesome. He did not hit any of his three 3-point attempts, but he did knock down a couple sweet pull-ups, and also worked his way to the line. On the other end, Franklin played a tough game and may have been IU’s best defender (more on that in a moment). So it was a really complete effort from him, and really encouraging stuff all around.

The defense was really good — again

While the offense has sort of been all over the place these first four games, the defense has been very good. Indiana has held all four opponents this season under a point per possession, a trend that continued with Stanford posting .886 points per possession on Wednesday. An important part of that was limiting Ziaire Williams to a thoroughly unremarkable afternoon. Williams, the No. 6 overall player in the 2020 recruiting class, finished 1-for-10 with four points, fouling out after 24 minutes. Give credit to Franklin for shutting him down. The IU guard stuck to Williams and frustrated him with defensive attention that was equal parts physical and thoughtful. It felt like Franklin was well prepared to take away the things that Williams wanted to do, evidence that this team was eager to bounce back from the Texas debacle.

Up next: at Florida State, Dec. 9

After this week’s three-game run in Asheville, the Hoosiers get a week of downtime to catch their breath before the ACC/Big Ten Challenge game in Tallahassee. It’s been a delayed start to the year for the No. 22 Seminoles, who saw their first scheduled game against Gardner-Webb get bagged. FSU is clearly comfortable on its home floor, and its 38-game non-conference home winning streak is the second-longest in the nation. In the ACC preseason poll, Florida State was picked to finish third behind Virginia and Duke.