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Three Things: Indiana men’s basketball wins at Minnesota 61-57

Of course that happened

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Minnesota Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports

With Mike Woodson out, and a three game win streak on the line, and Minnesota missing a couple key players, you knew it was going to be a weird game. Throw in Big Ten officiating, and a 9 p.m. ET start time, and all the pieces are there for a disastrous loss.

Thanks to Trayce Jackson-Davis (more on him later) Indiana was able to avoid catastrophe tonight, but it was far from comfortable. The Hoosiers trailed with under a minute to play and struggled to find any offense down the stretch.

Indiana likely would have lost to any other Big Ten team tonight, so we should also be grateful that the Hoosiers didn’t turn in a performance like this against Illinois or Michigan State. Aside from Trayce’s individual accomplishments, there wasn’t a whole lot to celebrate tonight.

A win is a win though, and you have to take what you can get from a team that’s just starting to right the ship when they’re down a head coach.

Here’s Three Things:

Mike Woodson

In case there was ever any doubt, Indiana needs Mike Woodson. He caught some flak from the angrier portion of the fanbase during Indiana’s brief losing streak, though it’s obvious now that he’s a big reason that the Hoosiers have been able to turn it around.

Against Illinois, for example, Woodson called a timeout under two minutes into the game after the Hoosiers turned it over on two straight possessions. Indiana struggled with turnovers all night, at one point hitting three consecutive turnovers before being bailed out with a time out.

As the head coach, Woodson clearly has a better feel for both the flow of the game and the team’s emotions. Using the Illinois example again, Jordan Geronimo in particular came out on fire, finishing with a season high 13 points after looking completely lost on the two possessions before the timeout.

Speaking of Geronimo, I would like to think that Woodson would have played a little more of him or Malik Reneau down the stretch. Reneau was on fire tonight with ten points in the first half, but hardly saw the floor in the second half, even as Thompson struggled in his first extended runs back from injury.

The defense was fine, all things considered, which is a good sign that Indiana’s turned a corner since the Penn State loss, with or without Mike Woodson.

Trayce Jackson-Davis

Trayce continues to look like the best player in the country, putting up 25 points, 21 rebounds, and six blocks, all of which were game-highs. He also did this:

Entering the game tied for the lead in Indiana’s program history with 227 blocks, Trayce set the record late in the first half and added five more to his lead over the course of the game. With 11 games remaining, he’s at 233 and counting.

Ideally, Trayce doesn’t have to put up numbers like this for Indiana to escape Minnesota with a victory. We knew this was going to be a bizarre game though, and Trayce is basically the only reason Indiana remains undefeated in quadrant three games this season.

There’s really nothing you can say to describe how well he’s played recently now that he’s gotten closer to 100% healthy. He’s putting up video game numbers on a nightly basis and carrying Indiana through a season full of adversity in the form of injuries and illnesses.

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No matter who is coaching, Indiana needs to be able to count on more from guys not named Trayce or Jalen Hood-Schifino. Especially in games like tonight, when Hood-Schifino plays like a freshman on the road in the Big Ten.

Reneau looked strong, going four of five for 10 points and avoiding foul trouble in his limited minutes. Miller Kopp also had a solid game, putting up 11 points, which ties the number of points he had scored in the previous three games.

Minnesota’s zone defense set Indiana’s offense back to approximately the Rutgers game, stifling the trio of Trey Galloway, Race Thompson, and Tamar Bates. Those three combined for 9 points in 79 minutes, hitting two of a combined twelve shot attempts.

Again, I would like to think that this is related to Woodson’s absence. He’s had those two playing extremely well over the winning streak, allowing for JHS to sit for extended stretches without a noticeable lag in the offense.

There’s no guarantee that Woodson will be back for Saturday though, so somebody needs to find ways to produce in the event that Indiana is short staffed for another game.