Indiana played its first overtime game of the year in the last regular season, eking out a two point victory over a Michigan team that was playing to keep its season alive. It wasn’t pretty, but it was gutsy and helped the Hoosiers carry some positive momentum into the postseason after ugly loss to Iowa.
The victory clinched a double bye in this week’s conference tournament, something Indiana hasn’t had since since the 2016 Big Ten championship season. It also means Indiana will finish at least tied for second in the conference, pending the result of tonight’s Northwestern game.
In their final games at Assembly Hall, Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis put on a show, leading Indiana in rebounds and scoring respectively, dominating the paint against one of the best post players in the conference.
Dickinson got his 24 points and defended Trayce better than any individual player in the conference, but it wasn’t enough for a Michigan team that really needed this win to stay on the bubble.
Here’s Three Things:
Since we already posted profiles on each of them, I’ll try to keep it brief, but the seniors for Indiana tonight were the difference tonight in their last game together in Assembly Hall. Of Indiana’s four top scorers tonight, three were the guys going through the senior day ceremony tonight.
Against truly impressive defense from Hunter Dickinson, Trayce Jackson-Davis turned in one of his most impressive performances of the year. In 44 (!) minutes, Trayce scored 27 points, grabbed 9 rebounds, had six assists, two steals, and two blocks.
Each one of those stats in his absurd stat line was crucial for Indiana winning this one possession game, but his overtime free throws really stand out on a night when the Hoosiers struggled from the stripe as a team.
He also found Miller Kopp and Tamar Bates on passes out of the post to assist on each of their first made 3s of the game, which was huge for Indiana regaining some momentum.
Race Thompson played perhaps the most Race Thompson game of his career tonight, finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, four steals, and a made 3-point attempt. Outside of his single 3-point attempt, he stuck to his bread and butter tonight, backing down smaller post players for a hook shot and grabbing huge offensive rebounds.
He was also extremely efficient from the field, going 7-10 overall and always appearing ready for a quick feed inside from Trayce. His three offensive rebounds and ten overall rebounds both led the team.
Miller Kopp got off to a rough start to the game, going 0-5 from deep in an uncharacteristically bad shooting performance from Indiana’s best 3-point shooter. He was benched for a period of time towards the middle of the game in favor of Kaleb Banks and Tamar Bates, who also struggled early on.
When he checked back in though, Kopp had the confidence he needed and immediately made a 3-pointer that brought Indiana within 6. He then went on to hit a long two, originally ruled a three, that wound up being the game winner for the Hoosiers.
It was a special night from the three of them and I cannot wait to cry my eyes out watching their senior night speeches later. They deserve all the success they’ve had this year, and all left Indiana in a much better place than they found it.
There weren’t many stand out individual performances, but Indiana got 10 points from Malik Reneau and Tamar Bates in their combined 34 minutes tonight. Juwan Howard got just two points in 36 minutes from his bench.
As with Miller Kopp, Bates struggled early, hesitating on his very first touch of the game before passing it away and chucking up a hurried three later in the possession. Woodson also benched him for a bit, but had to put him back in early in the second half when Galloway got into foul trouble.
Like Kopp, once Bates checked back in, he made a massive impact of the game. His first made three of the game came with 12:14 left in the game and was Indiana’s first make from deep since Race Thompson’s three in the first two and a half minutes of the game.
His second made three, assisted by Trayce, brought Indiana within a point of the Wolverines, finally giving Indiana the chance to retake the lead on a couple of layups from Trayce on the next few possessions.
Credit to Mike Woodson for getting the most of these guys today, especially with the way he was able instill some confidence in both Kopp and Bates when they were out for stretches.
In the context of how wild that game was, it’s important to remember that it meant much more to Michigan than it did to Indiana. The Wolverines are currently on the wrong side of the bubble in most brackets and now appear as though they’ll have to win the Big Ten Tournament to make the NCAA Tournament.
Of course, it would have been nice to see a more comfortable victory on senior night against a Michigan team that’s struggled to play consistently enough to live up to preseason expectations. On the other hand, it’s still a really talented group with Hunter Dickinson, Jett Howard, and Kobe Bufkin that had everything to play for tonight.
This doesn’t excuse the lapse in effort towards the middle of the game, when Indiana continued to lose guys from the perimeter, leaving Michigan’s best shooters wide open. But Indiana got off to a good enough start and fought hard enough at the end to win the game.
This was a big win for Mike Woodson and Indiana. Indiana had its postseason seeding on the line and obviously wanted to avoid losing two home games in a row heading into the Big Ten Tournament.
Even after taking a huge punch, trailing by 12 at one point in the second half, then losing the lead again in the final two minutes, the Hoosiers found a way to win and finish a special regular season on a positive note.