After a sloppy performance on the road this past Wednesday at Minnesota, Indiana got back to its dominant ways, beating the Buckeyes by 16 and emptying the bench for the final two minutes. And this time, Trayce didn’t have to dominate to get it done.
Behind strong minutes from freshmen Kaleb Banks, Malik Reneau, and Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana had its second-best offensive performance in Big Ten play tonight, going 10 of 20 from behind the arc. Indiana also got seven points from Tamar Bates in what was an all around great bench performance for the Hoosiers.
Indiana was without Jordan Geronimo tonight, which was some unwelcome pregame news considering Ohio State’s loaded front court. He apparently re-aggravated a pre-existing injury, likely explaining his limited playing time in the second half against Minnesota.
Time will tell when he and Xaiver Johnson can return to the lineup, but Indiana apparently got the boost it needed with the return of head coach Mike Woodson tonight. The Hoosiers looked locked in from the start, ending the first half on a 15-0 run to take a 16 point lead into the break.
Here’s Three Things:
Entering tonight’s game, JHS had hit just one of his last 12 3-point attempts as part of a shooting slump that extended back to January 8th, when Indiana lost to Northwestern in Assembly Hall. He hit his first six attempts tonight and went on to lead all scorers with 24 points on an efficient 8-12 from the field.
20 of his 24 points came in the first half tonight, but when he slowed down as a scorer, he settled in nicely as a game manager, letting Indiana hold its lead and sustain some runs from Ohio State. He had three assists versus just one turnover, helping set the tone on a single-digit turnover night for Indiana.
Most importantly, Jalen outplayed his biggest opponent in the Big Ten freshman of the year race, Brice Sensabaugh. Sensabaugh came close with 23 points, but Hood-Schifino escaped with the win, two more assists, and more points on just three total 2-point attempts.
If Hood-Schifino puts together a few more performances like this, he may not be in Bloomington for long. Still, I will take his outstanding play leading Indiana to a good seed in this year’s tournament over the possibility of a second year of JHS.
College basketball is too unpredictable to be greedy, as Indiana fans should know. Indiana has a good freshman and a great senior, and we should appreciate the ride.
The fact that Trayce’s 18 points tonight count as a quiet night for him offensively is a testament to how high of a level he’s been playing at recently. And despite a tough shooting night, he still turned in an extremely valuable performance for the Hoosiers.
Trayce led all players with 10 rebounds tonight, but also had a game-high six assists (and should have had more if not for some missed layups). Holtmann did the smart thing and sent help early on him every touch and Trayce still found a way to help Indiana to one of its best offensive performances of the year.
Trayce’s development as a passer, ball-handler, and post player is another bittersweet point for Indiana fans. The Hoosiers plainly need him to play at this level to sustain their chances for a respectable finish in the conference, but it also probably decreases the odds that he returns for his COVID year of eligibility.
In the long run, Woodson developing a reputation for developing players and getting Trayce to the pros is definitely a positive for Indiana, so it’s a win-win at the end of the day. And who knows, maybe the opportunity to spend a year in town with his brother and cash substantial NIL checks will convince him to stay either way.
A Glimpse Into the Future
Due in part to the Geronimo injury, Mike Woodson went to Kaleb Banks for some first half minutes for the first time in Big Ten play. His 12 minutes are the most he’s played since Indiana thumped Jackson State 90-51 on November 30th.
Banks finished with five points tonight, tying Race Thompson and Miller Kopp in scoring despite getting about half as many minutes as either of them. He saw time at both the three and the four, filling in for Miller Kopp when Ohio States’ forwards started getting hot on the wings.
Malik Reneau also tied his career-high with 15 points tonight, matching his performance in Indiana’s season opener against Morehead State. He’s now had double digits in back-to-back games and appears to have found the confidence he had against lesser opponents in the early portions of the season.
Reneau and Banks gaining Woodson’s trust will be huge for the Hoosiers going forward, giving them more options at the three and four spots. As they continue to develop, Woody will be able to go to them more quickly off the bench when Race Thompson or Miller Kopp are having a tough night.
Their performances tonight, along with C.J. Gunn’s well-executed fast break, and a crafty showing from Tamar Bates should assure Indiana fans that the future is bright. Mike Woodson is bringing in a caliber of recruits that the Hoosiers haven’t had in a while and developing his existing roster better than the prior staff ever could.