Final: Indiana 81 – Xavier 79
Well, that one was certainly closer than I would have liked. The Musketeers gave it their all, but ultimately fell just short. Watching this game, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a familiar movie, scenes I’ve seen time and time before. An Indiana team that comes out flat and never gets up to the tempo I fully expect them to and end up losing in a tough away venue. Only we got a major difference here! This Indiana found a way to get the win! In what was still a frustrating game to watch at times, the Hoosiers were able to march into a hostile environment and get a win that last year’s team would have most certainly let slip away. Let’s get into how the Indiana Hoosiers were able to get the win in hostile Xavier!
The Hoosiers and the Musketeers tipped off for the first time since 2007. The loyal fans in Cincinnati and new Head Coach Sean Miller were wanting to gain a statement scalp for their tournament resume. While the Musketeers fought incredibly valiantly, when all was said and done the Hoosiers rotational depth was able to maintain long enough to win in a ruckus away venue.
The Hoosier defense was working adequately, while shots were just not falling. After going 0 for 5 from the the Hoosiers began to find some range and Jalen Hood-Schifino was able to hit a big three following a big three by Xavier. Only problem with Xavier’s was the technical that followed immediately. While I think it was a weak call to be made by the official, Xavier Johnson’s been around long enough to know we can’t be giving anyone reasons, especially in these away game scenarios.
Trayce ended the weaker first half with an incredibly dominant stat line, going 7 for 7 tallying 17 points as the Hoosiers went into the half down two following what felt like a far worse performance than one would see in the box score. I figured with how inept we felt at times, the Hoosiers surely couldn’t come out that flat. Surely the Hoosiers made the half time adjustments necessary to exploit the advantage that the Indiana depth offered in this matchup. Jack Nunge was sucking wind at times, and who could blame him? I was looking to see a Hoosier team come out of the half and show off the tempo our rotation could allow…
Following the break from the half the Hoosiers were quick to force the issue and made it so the Musketeers had to begin racking up fouls quickly. Limiting time for some of their key performers. Things began rolling for the Hoosiers until yet another weak, weak technical called on Malik Reneau. That was incredibly weak. While I did appreciate some of the calls out of the gate on Indiana’s behalf, I don’t understand what these guys are supposed to do, they weren’t screaming at anybody, they weren’t going crazy on these technicals, they were simply playing basketball. LET THE BOYS PLAY!!!!
The back and forth nature carried on later into this one than I had hoped for. Growing closer and closer to the final whistle, Indiana and Xavier found themselves tied Malik stepped up big time with a pair of key free throws following X missing the front of a 1 and 1. When Indiana went on the 6-0 run their shortly after, the Xavier fatigue began to make itself known, and yet they still were sinking their shots. Allowing them to always remain in contention. Thankfully the Hoosiers’ were able to outlast the Xavier Musketeers and get out with the win.
Trayce Jackson-Davis was absolutely dominant throughout this game. The old habit of Indiana not finding its shots dropping in away venues reared it’s ugly head, but Trayce never let it get to his game personally. Shouldering the offensive effort for the Hoosiers and ending with an incredibly impressive stat line of 30 points on 13 for 16 from the floor. Just an incredible performance by our captain, our All-American, and the Hoosier North Star.
Miller Kopp made up for his tough night shooting, making a key three and sinking two key free throws. Those were some incredibly pressure filled moments that he delivered in down the line. Good to see us be able to turn to our veteran shooter and rely on him to make the shots when the game was on the line. It could be easy to understand a guy falling victim to that moment following the shooting night that the Hoosiers were having prior to that.
While Xavier Johnson had more than a few boneheaded plays in this one, he was able to make up for it both defensively and through his shooting. Xavier had a senior’s stat line of 23 points on 7 for 8 from the floor draining both of the 3 point shots he took in this game. He is such an incredibly talented player, who if he was able to streamline his game to cut down on turnovers, could be a truly great point guard in the college game. I’m always pulling for the young man and excited to see how he will follow up this one.
Away wins at recognizable programs can come few and far between in college basketball. Enjoy this win Hoosier fans. While the product on the floor left much to be desired, we survived our first true test on the season and have plenty of film to comb over and get this squad calibrated to peak performance. Props to the crowd in Cincy, it looked like an absolutely live environment, which just makes me even more proud of the Hoosiers and even more impressed with our most impressive away win in who knows how long?!
Thanks for taking the time to read Hoosier fans and have yourself a great night! I like to get these “night of” post game thoughts out quickly, I do apologize for any and all errors throughout.
LUX ET VERITAS!!!