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Three Things: Indiana men’s basketball loses at Iowa 91-89

Jesus Christ

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Iowa Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Every trip to Iowa City has the potential to be uniquely awful and bizarre for Indiana men’s basketball, and yet tonight’s game somehow ended up being more of a nightmare than I could have ever expected. I sincerely hope I wake up tomorrow having dreamt this.

Fran McCaffery was peak Fran McCaffery and somehow didn’t get ejected when he crossed the court to yell at Yasir Rosemond, despite having gotten a technical early in the first half. The referees really outdid themselves in this one throughout, and this was only about the fifth most upsetting call of the night.

Indiana honestly showed a lot of fight for coming back from Iowa’s best punch and retaking the lead in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to eke out the win over an Iowa team that resembled every other Iowa team you’ve ever seen. And yet, with the injuries and result, I can’t make myself feel good about this one.

Abolish Big Ten Basketball. Here’s Three Things:

Race Thompson

Race had one of his best starts of the season, going 4-4 from the field, grabbing three rebounds, and recording a block in the opening minutes. He was playing strong in the paint offensively, taking advantage of the attention Trayce Jackson-Davis was getting early on.

Indiana rode his hot start to get to a 28-7 lead, dominating on both ends. Everything was good.

And then Iowa’s Kris Murray rolled up the back of Thompson’s leg on a loose ball and Race went down. While we can hope for the best, Race’s reaction was not promising.

He was ruled out for the rest of the game shortly before halftime ended, and came out of the locker room on crutches with his knee wrapped up. Jordan Geronimo started the second half at the four spot after Reneau had another tough first half between fouls and turnovers.

Basketball consequences aside, this sucks, a lot. Race has been one of the hardest workers throughout his entire tenure at Indiana, often times providing the only spark or bright spot during the worst parts of the Archie era.

Race had every opportunity to enter the portal, but stuck it out through some awful basketball and a coaching change three years into his career. He absolutely deserves to end his career in the NCAA tournament instead of on an injury in Iowa City, so let’s hope he can make it back into the rotation soon.

Basketball wise, this was the last thing Indiana needed. Losing Xavier Johnson was already a blow to the high expectations set before the season, and now Indiana will be without another four years of experience and 8.4 points per game.

Neither Jordan Geronimo nor Malik Reneau have looked particularly strong recently, which actually forced Mike Woodson to go with the small ball lineup I talked about last week for longer stretches than he has in the past. Even with Miller Kopp, Tamar Bates, Jalen Hood-Schifino, and Trey Galloway, all of whom are shooting above 35% from 3-point range, the Hoosiers finished with just 15 attempts from deep.

Simply put, this is a team whose offense is built on points inside. And now Indiana will potentially be without one of its most consistent interior scorers for what could be a long time.

Woodson will have to change this team’s offensive identity in a hurry or get some more quality minutes from Reneau and Geronimo going forward, but either way, this is a blow.

Trayce Jackson-Davis

In case you missed it this week, Trayce got some truly heinous fan mail from somebody who purports to be a supporter of Indiana men’s basketball.

Not that there was any real doubt as to Trayce’s ability as a player or leader, but he certainly played as though he had something to prove to Tim Weaver tonight. On a night when he watched his longtime teammate go down with a devastating injury, Trayce did his best to will Indiana to victory with 30 points, nine rebounds, three blocks and three assists.

What makes his stat line even more impressive is the fact that he is still clearly far from 100% healthy. He was extremely stiff heading to the locker room at half time and started the second half a little more gingerly than we’re used to seeing, before reasserting himself down the stretch.

Along with the Race Thompson injury, this is just about worst-case scenario for Indiana. The hope was that the rest over the long layoff and the final two non-conference games would have been enough to get Trayce healthy again, but this now seems like something that will be bothering him for the rest of the season.

Unless he can continue these heroic performances through what appears to be a significant amount of back pain, Indiana is going to need to find ways to offset some of his scoring and defensive load as he continues to tough it out.

Jalen Hood-Schifino

The only unequivocal bright spot tonight was Jalen Hood-Schifino, who played probably his best overall college game tonight. The freshman had 21 points, nine assists, three rebounds and just two turnovers in his first conference game without Xavier Johnson.

For all of Indiana’s concerns right now, the point guard spot is not one of them. Hood-Schifino hit his first three 3-point attempts in the first half and finished the night at 5-8 from deep. He and Tamar Bates, who hit two of his four tries, were the only Hoosiers to attempt multiple threes.

Hood-Schifino played with the aggression and confidence that Indiana will need from all of its guards going forward and had a couple of highlight plays that will only add to his NBA draft stock. Any hope Indiana fans have for this team still winning the conference likely depend on him performing at this level every game, so it’s good to see he’s up to the task in the first real test he’s played in since he struggled at Xavier.