Indiana Frontcourt Dominates To Claim The Ever-Illusive Wisconsin Win With Newfound Energy (Hoosier postgame thoughts)

FINAL: Indiana 63 – Wisconsin 45

What a game. What a game. With both programs in a tailspin following stretches of poor performances, a win was absolutely needed for the Indiana Hoosiers to limit the hole they were digging for themselves to start the Big Ten season. Without any semblance of energy or willingness to “punch back” in the few games prior, the Hoosiers have folded each game and given zero effort to make up for mindless mistakes and lack of execution. As cliché as it may sound, the accountability of this squad seemed to be its most glaring issue. That was not the case in this matchup.

The Hoosiers dug in and delivered a performance to be proud of. They came to the court with the intention and intensity necessary to get wins in the Big Ten. They then came out of the break with a halftime intensity that we hadn’t seen this year. While Indiana’s commitment to defense has been an issue in the games leading up to yesterday, that was not the case here. With plenty of basketball left to play, and plenty of good to take from this win, don’t count the Hoosiers out just yet.

The Hoosiers absolutely denied the Badgers any opportunity to find reliable and available shooting chances. In an effort largely led by Trayce Jackson-Davis, and his 5 blocks in the game, the Indiana defense held the Wisconsin shooters to 32% FG shooting for the day. The Hoosier backcourt pressure was blanketing the Badger guards.

Jalen Hood-Schifino was essential to the Indiana Hoosiers’ success on the offensive end. While amassing most of his 16 points in the second half, Jalen Hood-Schifino really brought an improved defensive effort. Xavier Johnson brought so much energy to the floor on the defensive end. This game was the first evidence of Indiana being able to somewhat subsidize the pressure lost by Xavier’s injury, and plenty of credit to Jalen and his 36 minutes for that.

While displaying massive amounts of poise in this one, Jalen Hood-Schifino was able to facilitate an Indiana offense that only turned the ball over 8 times. Wisconsin is a defensive minded program (a Big Ten defensive minded program? Go figure) that has been causing opponent turnovers at a very high clip. Indiana made the most of their opportunities in this one looking to utilize a superior front court to dictate this game.

Speaking of which, the Indiana front court was an absolute force in this matchup. With only one made 3 pointer in this game, interior buckets were the name of the game for the Indiana Hoosiers. Almost beating Wisconsin in the paint alone, the Hoosiers scored a massive 42 points in the interior.

Trayce Jackson-Davis was running the floor with a newfound spring in his step. The All-American looked to have far less physical pain while on the court in this one. While Trayce has been great, despite his back pains, he looked like a weight was lifted off of his shoulders in this game. He ended the afternoon with 18 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists, and 5 blocks within his 33 minutes on the court. Our preseason All-American looked every bit like one. He set a tone on the defensive side of the ball that bled into interior dominance on the offensive end. Just great to see Trayce find the next gear that so many of us had been waiting for and all new he had. I hope this is a sign of what’s to come. Because the Hoosiers came with the energy necessary to compete in the Big Ten in this game, and it was largely an effort helmed by TJD. Who even showed off a signature flex following a dunk with 2 minutes left in the game.

Jordan Geronimo had an incredibly strong performance for the Hoosiers. To begin the Penn State game, Jordan showed some of this effort off. But in this one, he truly played his heart out. Looking like basketball was fun again, Jordan hauled in an incredible 11 rebounds. He was flying around on the defensive end. He played the most meaningful minutes of his season in this one. I am excited to see how Jordan could possibly expand on this performance. He may just step up to be essential to the Hoosiers’ success moving forward, because he sure was in this one. Jordan Geronimo ended his most influential game of the season with 12 points, 11 boards, and one block.

Malik Reneau has struggled in the games leading up to this one. Even though he ended his night with 6 points, he looked far more confident out there. His hooks in the paint were taken with the poise that he had against the lesser opponents the Hoosiers faced to start the year. The confidence gained from absolutely staunch defensive stands produced quite a few nice plays for the freshman. There was even a series where Malik had picked up a charge at the 7:34 mark in the first half, that I was blown away by him finding the open man on the perimeter after recognizing the second Wisconsin defender collapsing on him just prior to commiting the foul. It was a very small moment, followed by an iffy charge, that spoke volumes to the mentality shift this locker room could have made. Great to see Malik’s confidence growing.

It was a team effort on the defensive end and each Hoosier should be applauded for holding anyone to 45 points. You hold a team to that few, you win more than you lose. The momentum gained through the defensive pressure absolutely fueled the offensive game of the Hoosiers in this one as Trey Galloway was able to produce a stat line of 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists. He was essential to the defensive pressure in his 19 minutes on the floor. “Crazy Man” brought the energy.

Unfortunately, both Miller Kopp and Tamar Bates were once again held to a quiet night. Unable to find their open opportunities consistently, Miller had a total of 2 shots taken in this one. I think that brings the last 3 games to a total of 7 shot attempts for Miller. He continues to shoot at great percentages, but our best shooter only getting off one or two shots a game can not continue into March if the Hoosiers intend to be contending against the high caliber offenses from outside conferences that don’t beat the ever-loving crap out of each other like the Big Ten. That being said, this win was a total team effort. Credit to each man for the role he played in the most tenacious defense we’ve seen this season.

Even while shooting 1 for 8 from 3 point land, the Hoosiers were able to dominate this one. Defense wins championships and the Hoosiers were finally able to deliver the defense that we had thought was going to be the identity of this program. Hopefully plenty of demons were lifted in this one, as the Hoosiers looked like a far more committed, focused, and determined squad in this game. I am well aware that the Badgers are down their top scorer, but Wisconsin has always been a monkey on our back. Even in seasons with far lesser squads, they always seemed to find a way to beat us. Credit to the Hoosiers for now making us 2-8 in our last 10 meetings. Plenty of good to take from this one, last thing the Hoosiers can afford is to come out slow against the most unpredictable team in the Big Ten, Illinois. Here’s hoping this game was just the beginning of a new found focus in this Hoosier team.

Thank you for reading these short thoughts of a Hoosier fan. I release these post game thoughts along with an episode of the Often Daunted podcast each morning following the Hoosiers’ game (today’s below). If you like what you read, gimme a listen wherever you get your podcasts. Enjoy this win Hoosier fans. The Hoosiers brought lockdown defense. If you’re going to throw salt when they don’t, throw roses when they do. Have a great day Hoosier fans. Check back in for my thoughts heading into the Illinois matchup this week.

LUX ET VERITAS!

-Burke

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