Indiana notched its third straight win today against Michigan State, moving back to .500 in conference play with the 82-69 victory. Each of the last three victories have come by double-digits, signaling a return to the form that had many experts choosing the Hoosiers to win the Big Ten.
The offense looked shaky to start, but the defense turned in another solid performance today, allowing the offense to heat up towards the end of the first half with some help off the bench. After a four-minute scoring drought, Malik Reneau checked into the game with a quick two points, sparking an Indiana run that led to a five-point lead entering the half.
Indiana even managed to win the halftime show with Tamar Bates’s daughter coming out on top of the baby crawl race at center court. Aside from a small run from the Spartans to open the second half, it was smooth sailing for Indiana for most of the second half, as Trayce once again began to dominate during the game’s most crucial stretches.
It hasn’t always been pretty, but Indiana appears to have weathered the worst of the injury storm and looks to be at least a little healthier going forward. Race Thompson’s return to the lineup today was a nice surprise, even though he’s far from being 100%.
Things continue to look up for Mike Woodson’s Hoosiers.
Here’s Three Things:
As mentioned above, Race is back, but not fully healthy. His minutes were very very limited today, and when both Jordan Geronimo and Malik Reneau fouled out, Woodson went to Miller Kopp to close the game out at the four spot.
Regardless of when he’s able to get back into game shape, Race’s availability is a huge boost for Mike Woodson. Especially in games like today, when it was apparently a foul to play defense against Joey Hauser.
Hauser gave Indiana trouble, leading MSU in scoring with 22 points, 9 of which came from the free throw line with all of the fouls he was drawing along the way. When Race was healthy last year, he and Miller Kopp held Hauser to just 5 points and two free throw attempts.
Looking ahead to the schedule, Indiana should hopefully be able to get by Minnesota without leaning too heavily on Race, which means he has six days to continue recovering before taking on Ohio State.
Thompson, Reneau, and Geronimo all bring pretty distinct things to the lineup, so it’ll be important for Woodson to have all three available through the tough stretches of conference play to come.
Whether it was for an injury or his inconsistent play today, Mike Woodson kept Jalen Hood-Schifino to just 25 minutes today, leaving him on the bench for an extended stretch in the second half. This has given Indiana trouble in the past, like in the last game when Hood-Schifino’s foul trouble led to Trey Galloway and Tamar Bates struggling to beat the full-court press down the stretch.
Today, Tamar Bates and Trey Galloway stepped up when Indiana needed them most. Hood-Schifino had just two points today, taking some uncharacteristically bad shots and committing two turnovers.
Galloway and Bates each had 17 points today, combining to go eight of nine on 3-point attempts and both going perfect from the free-throw line. Galloway also had three assists in the point guard role, while neither of the two committed any turnovers.
With Xavier Johnson’s continued absence, we’re going to need to see more games like this from Bates and Galloway. Hood-Schifino has been great for the most part, but he’s also a freshman and due to have some off games.
Malik Reneau also looked good off the bench today, despite the foul trouble. He had one traveling call, but otherwise appears to have found the offensive composure and confidence he had earlier in the season. He also grabbed five rebounds, second on the team behind Trayce’s 10.
Trayce Jackson-Davis (Again)
Early on, it did not look like Trayce’s day. He and Hood-Schifino each missed their first four shots, which allowed Michigan State to open up a 17-8 lead while Indiana’s two offensive stars struggled.
Izzo was pressuring Trayce way more than Brad Underwood did earlier this week and for a little bit, it seemed like it was going to work in his favor. Instead, it appeared to just make Trayce angry, which was probably the worst thing Izzo could have done.
Once he got going, it was clear that he would, once again, be the best player on the floor. He finished with 31 points, 15 rebounds, and four assists, all game-highs, en route to his second straight 30 point performance.
Significantly, Trayce was also money from the free-throw line, hitting 11 of his 13 attempts. As defensive game plans continue to fail against him, teams may be tempted to start fouling him as a last-ditch effort.
If he can keep knocking them down like he did today though, it’s not clear how anybody will be able to contain Trayce Jackson-Davis the way he’s playing right now. He’s been special since he walked on campus, but the way he’s played the last three games has cemented his legacy as one of the best Hoosiers in recent memory.
Don’t take it for granted.