Final: Indiana 89 – Iowa 91
Following the long break in games many Hoosier fans could have wondered how this Indiana team would look given an opportunity to rest and rehab a bit, before the grueling gauntlet that is Big Ten Basketball really got rolling. Would the extra time given have this team rested and ready to come out the gate ready to produce, or would they come out flat after so much time off? Also, would the introduction of Tamar into the starting lineup be enough to alleviate the flat starts that have plagued this team against big time competition?
The Hawkeyes were desperate to stop their current backslide, highlighted by their loss to Eastern Illinois, heading into this game. Desperate to not start their Big Ten season 0-4, you had to figure they would be giving the Hoosiers their best shot. With them still being #49 in KenPoms rankings, with no away Big Ten win coming easy, and with all of the emotional weight they could have been bringing into this one, I figured the Hoosiers could be in for an absolute battle in Iowa. Even with the losses heading into it, Iowa entered Thursday’s game as the 1.5 point favorite in the eyes of Vegas.
Indiana came out of the gate and looked to dominate. Absolutely bringing an attitude that the team had longed for in games like this prior. And while Indiana let this game slip away, I am left after this game still hopeful. The manner in which Indiana came out was really a sight for sore eyes for this Hoosier fan. We have been longing for that start and Indiana showed up with it, the pieces are all there, it’s just a matter of them coming together at the same time.
Prior to this game, Trayce shared a deranged letter from a fan. I don’t want to use his name because that was the work of someone in need of help, or just an a**h*** looking to get under his skin. Either way, best to let this one die and just give Trayce the support necessary to drown out the less empathetic and less rational. This event in tandem with him coming back from the long break made me absolutely starving to see Trayce take the floor.
And The Captain did not disappoint. Our leader set the tone quickly as the Hoosiers looked to bring an edge into this one that has been lacking from our tips routinely. Great to see the Hoosiers come out of the gate with clear intention, however quickly it was. That is largely in part due to the examples set by the likes of Trayce. Starting the game with an and one. You saw that Trayce had it tonight. Right out of the gate.
And whatever you have to say about the final. TRAYCE BATTLED LAST NIGHT! His back proved to still be an ailment for him, as he was seen tending to it at the half. He still went out and put up an absolutely monstrous stat line. With 30 points and 9 boards, Trayce showed grit against Iowa. He showed an ability to go and get his despite the defense (and referees) best shots. Proud of how the captain showed up for the program and played through the pain.
Along with Trayce Jackson-Davis, Jalen Hood-Schifino was able to display a new gear in his game. Asked to shoulder so much of the back court load offensively now that Xavier Johnson is down, Jalen stepped up and had Indiana distributing well. While also going out and having his most impressive night shooting yet. Ending the night with 21 points and 9 assists. Jalen showed that the best has yet to come in his game, and with the injuries hitting the Hoosiers currently, I am over the moon to see it.
Race Thompson displayed a delicate touch around the rim on the offensive end. Able to almost tuck the ball in the bucket. He was hitting his hooks and turnarounds around the rim and it was great to see him come out of the gate looking to take those shots. That’s why it was so heartbreaking to see our veteran go down with 4 minutes left in the 1st half. Race was bringing it and his night ended early. I pray that Race is able to get back to playing as soon as possible. His loss was immediately felt, as Indiana began to let this one slip away in the second half.
The Indiana defense collectively is the ultimate culprit in Indiana allowing this game to slip away. After an absolutely stifling start, the Indiana defense got rather porous following Race’s injury in this one. Allowing Iowa 51 second half points. One more point than we had just scored in our blazing first half. Despite the outstanding performances by both Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino, Indiana was unable to pull out the win. While that hurts for fans (and the team, despite how many fans may think it doesn’t), Big Ten away wins are few and far between, this year proving to be the case more so than ever. We can afford this. While Iowa has suffered some terrible losses, they are still highly regarded by the analysts and still stand to be dancing come March. Again, entering this one #49 KenPom.
Along with the defense, our inability to knock down free throws killed Indiana’s chances to get the win.
Mike Woodson got these guys coming out the gate hot in this one. Which is what so many were looking to see. Despite that Indiana was unable to respond when Iowa had made the adjustments and began finding their shots. While there was a lot to take from this, Indiana needs to find a way to win these games. Mike Woodson has to have these guys ready to execute in the final minutes and get the Hoosiers these close wins. Seems like the Big Ten may come down to 3 or 4 possessions, can’t afford to lose these close ones. I have to think that Mike Woodson will get this team’s game together.
I’m not going to say the Big Ten officiating this season has been an all-time display of ineptitude. I’m not going to say that Jordan’s technical was the wildest “delay of game” call I’ve ever seen. I’m definitely not going to say that because that’s loser talk.
With so much of the season left, I refuse to dwell on the negative of this one for too long. There’s still all the basketball to play, and Indiana’s got a quick turnaround as the Hoosiers host Northwestern Sunday. The Hoosiers came out playing harder than they ever had and Jalen Hood-Schifino truly looked to take the next step in his offensive game in this one. While one could go mad with the frustrations, this Hoosier fan will choose to once again take the route of blissful and possibly ignorant optimism. I believe this team can figure it out, it’s a matter of health and the team figuring out how to get all of these skills collaborating and working in tandem. This team has all the raw talent necessary, Trayce battled today and I think he is the leader necessary. Just remember, teams in January could look entirely different come March. IT’S ALL ABOUT MARCH!!!
Here’s hoping the Hoosiers can build on the hot start they showed in this one. Losses suck. I know. Time to move on to Northwestern. Down with the Wildcats!
If ya want to give me a listen check out the OFTEN DAUNTED PODCAST. New episode with some thoughts on this one out wherever you get yours.
LUX ET VERITAS!
Disclaimer: these are the words of a Hoosier fan who never claims to be whatever an “insider” is.