Indiana won its third conference road game of the season, beating the desperate Michigan Wolverines 62-61 in one of the ugliest wins of the season. The Hoosiers battled back from trailing double digits in the first half, eventually holding Michigan scoreless over the final five minutes of the game to eke out the one point win.
Michigan and Indiana entered the game tied in the Big Ten at 8-5, but Michigan had racked up early wins over the easier portion of the conference. The Wolverines were on the outside of the NCAA tournament looking in to start the night, so the loss hurts more than just their Big Ten standings.
For the most part, Indiana did not play well enough to win. The offense never really found a rhythm, while the defense allowed three Wolverines to hit double digit scoring in the first half.
That Indiana found a way to win this kind of game that it’s lost a million times before is a sign of the ongoing culture shift that Mike Woodson’s started this season. The Hoosiers have now won eight of their last nine and could move into four seed contention after tonight’s win.
Here’s Three Things:
Basically all season, I’ve been able to just plan on writing two things, confident that Trayce Jackson-Davis would do something incredible. Once again, he came through tonight, with 28 points, 11 rebounds, and three assists.
To his credit, Hunter Dickinson played probably the best individual defense on Trayce that Indiana has seen all season. The seven-foot podcaster finished the night with three blocks, seven rebounds, and 16 points, which was the third highest point total in tonight’s game.
Unfortunately for Dickinson, the two players with more points than him tonight both played for Indiana, and Trayce’s performance solidified that he is in an entirely different league than Michigan’s big man.
Trayce’s 28 points are all the more impressive considering how little help he was getting from his teammates. Outside of Jalen Hood-Schifino (more on him later), nobody on Indiana really demanded Michigan’s defensive attention.
Despite playing with the ball in his hand for what felt like a majority of Indiana’s offensive possessions, Trayce turned the ball over just twice, with one being on an ill-advised attempt to find Jordan Geronimo on a fast break.
His ball handling and passing have taken huge strides under Woodson, and both were on display tonight with Trayce drawing Dickinson and Tarris Reed out of the paint to initiate offense. He’s also become more patient with the ball, waiting to see where the double was coming from before moving the ball to a teammate.
If it weren’t for Zach Edey, he would be a shoo-in for conference and potentially national player of the year. Trayce’s season has been special, and we should be grateful for the opportunity to watch him play.
After struggling in his last two road games at Maryland and Minnesota, some Hoosier fans were growing concerned with his ability to play on the road as a freshman. Never mind the fact that he dropped 21 in Iowa City or his 11 points in Lawrence, people had an agenda to push.
Jalen put that agenda to bed tonight, gutting out 21 points, five assists, and four rebounds in Ann Arbor on a night when things weren’t going his way. He got two fouls early, which led to an extended stretch on the bench in the first half before he even scored a point.
It wasn’t Jalen’s best shooting night either, as he went just 8-15 from the field and 1-3 from 3-point range. Add in his six turnovers, and we have all the makings of an off night from JHS, which Indiana clearly cannot afford right now with Xavier Johnson injured.
Instead, Hood-Schifino came off the bench with a vengeance, playing the entire second half and helping keep Indiana in the game as the offense struggled. This was Jalen’s fourth 20+ point game this year, all of which have come against Big Ten opponents.
Playing more consistently on the road was just about the only knock on Jalen as a one and done, and while it wasn’t perfect, he certainly took a step in the right direction tonight. With this development, he may not be around much longer.
Race Thompson was out tonight for precautionary reasons, and Jordan Geronimo is still not fully healthy, which excuses his performance to an extent. Outside of him though, the rest of Indiana’s roster laid an absolute egg tonight.
If you’ve ever wondered whether a team of two professionals could win against a full team of amateurs, I would direct you to tonight’s boxscore. Outside of Trayce and Jalen, nobody on Indiana had more than FOUR POINTS. FOUR.
With the injuries, Indiana only played seven guys tonight, but one of those seven didn’t score while another two were held to the equivalent of one made shot each. Trey Galloway was the only Hoosier without a hyphenated last name to even score more than one field goal tonight.
To be fair, Jett Howard is absolutely a professional basketball player, and looked the part tonight. To say that Trayce and Jalen took on a team full of amateurs would be denying Howard’s talent and the fact that Hunter Dickinson will probably have a long career on a different continent (if podcasting doesn’t work out).
That said, it’s absurd that Michigan lost that game. No team should be able to win with as few offensive contributors as Indiana had tonight, especially not a team that was fighting for its tournament hopes.
Some of it had to do with Indiana stepping up defensively in the second half, holding Kobe Bufkin scoreless in the final twenty minutes after he went off for 14 in the first half. Offensively though, Indiana simply cannot keep playing like this on the road and expect to win.
The Hoosiers mostly get a pass for winning tonight, but if they want to win more road games from here on out, it may be best not to hope from 40 minutes of unbelievable basketball from Trayce.