TJD and the Hoosier Frontcourt dominate a hot Illinois squad. (Indiana – ILL post game thoughts)

Final: Indiana 80 – Illinois 65

Heading into this game Illinois was determined to continue their hot streak and get their fifth straight win in a row. At home in the fake Assembly Hall, the Illini were favorites to handle the Hoosiers and continue Indiana’s Big Ten woes. Indiana came out of the gate determined to make sure that was not going to be the case in this one. While you can say it was a team effort, it was a team effort largely anchored by our All-American and the tenacity that bled through the Indiana frontcourt.

The Indiana frontcourt was unquestionably, undoubtedly, insurmountably dominant today. The Hoosiers beat the Illini 54-32 in the paint. Each big man stepped up to the occasion and delivered stellar performances. Whether it was Trayce Jackson-Davis exhibiting his reinvigorated game down low, Jordan Geronimo continuing to show he has the mettle to fill in and produce for the Hoosiers at the 4, or Malik Reneau figuring out how to contribute and munch key minutes, each Indiana big man brought an intensity to be admired.

Trayce Jackson-Davis had an incredible night for the Hoosiers. Since the Wisconsin game Trayce has come out looking like a new man. He’s always had the skill, but had looked to be fighting through injury. Not as of late, this Trayce is playing with an edge. An edge that Illinois can’t be too happy to have come across last night.

That’s a healthy man’s dunk.

Trayce is displaying an emotional intensity on the court that had lacked during the Hoosiers’ skid to start the conference season. If it was all health, if it was a mentality shift, whatever it may be, I’m glad to see Trayce playing some of his most focused, determined, and productive ball to date. Trayce made it look easy. Absolutely punishing Illinois’ Dain Dainja and Matthew Meyer, Trayce amassed 35 points on 15 for 19 shooting on the day. On top of that, Trayce was incredibly impressive, showing off poise while draining 5 of 6 free throws he had taken. Illinois had absolutely no game plan for TJD. Unwilling to commit collapsing defenders, Trayce took full advantage of every opportunity Underwood and the Illinois defense presented him. When you’ve faced Rutgers’ triple teams, what’s a little belly bumpin’ down low?

Jordan Geronimo has officially taken the next step in his growth as an Indiana Hoosier. While one could have said that following last game, following two consistently dominant performances by the athletic superhuman, I’m ready to say Jordan has turned a corner. Jordan was again essential to the Hoosiers’ defensive pressure. Ending the night with 3 blocks (Trayce also had 3), Jordan continued to bring an intensity necessary to compete in the Big Ten. Showing maximum effort, Jordan went 6 for 8 shooting. Ending the night with 13 points and 8 rebounds. Great line by a guy stepping up to and past the occasion. Great game by Jordan!

Malik Reneau contributed 14 crucial minutes, allowing Trayce some rest to continue his utter reign of terror on the Illinois frontcourt. He continued to show he IS INDEED READY to battle with the B1Gs. He looked impressively composed as he went 2 for 4, ending with 5 points. What was the most impressive though, was Malik’s 6 rebounds, 2 of which were offensive boards that he ended up converting in the end. With plenty of development left, Malik is showing he is ready to continue his growth into one of the Big Ten’s most dangerous big men.

The Indiana backcourt stepped up to isolate and limit Terrence Shannon Jr. and his impact on this game. While by the end Terrence was still able to amass 26 points, he did so on 8/18 shooting. Jalen got into some dicey foul trouble with 9 minutes left in this game. That is when Indiana hit a 0-9 skid with the potential to tailspin. Luckily Trey Galloway was able to end it with one of his trademark stop and lob shots. Following another bucket after that, Trey was able to limit the damage done by Illini’s largest second half push in this game. The Hoosiers needed a backcourt ball handler to step up, and Trey delivered (after a turnover or two, but Hey! I forgive him for those buckets he followed it up with). The backcourt got in foul trouble yes, but the back court persisted and outlasted the Illini in the end and deserve the credit for persisting through the foul trouble and delivering a victorious performance. True team effort on the defensive end and this backcourt is to be applauded just as the front was.

While he was limited a bit due to foul trouble, Jalen Hood-Schifino still amassed 31 minutes. Scary hit he took when he fell to the ground on his wrist, but he looked to play through competently. Jalen delivered a great defensive performance, and has continued to step up on that end. The Hoosiers desperately needed him to do so with the loss of Xavier’s defensive pressure. Great game by a freshman phenom as Jalen got 10 points, 4 assists and 3 boards.

Trey played great defensively, and made the most of his shooting on the night. Shooting 4 for 5, Trey Galloway had 11 points, 2 assists, and 1 rebound. Last year’s worst 3 point shooter continued improving his incredible success rate, converting his lone three pointer taken on the night. Trey continues to step up and deliver the energy each moment is calling for. The Hoosiers can take the turnovers here and there, if he keeps bringing the enthusiasm (but also let’s limit those).

A total team effort was needed to get this win. A total team effort on the defensive end absolutely crippled any opportunities that Illinois had to get back into this game. While Indiana exploited the interior for 62% shooting on the night, the Hoosier defense was able to hold Illinois to 39%. Outrebounding the Fighting Illini 39-27, the Hoosiers stepped into one of the Big Ten’s most intimidating environments and didn’t fold. They stepped up and delivered, and nobody more so than our captain Trayce.

Thank you so much for reading these short thoughts of a fan writing on the team he loves to pass the time in between tips. I release a podcast along with each of these post games, so if you like what you read, give me a listen on the OFTEN DAUNTED podcast wherever you get yours. Check back here for my pregame thoughts on the newly charged Hoosiers’ upcoming game with the Michigan State Spartans.

Oh ya…

17 turnovers. Yikes. Address it. Move on.

Enjoy the win Hoosier fans and have yourself a great day!

LUX ET VERITAS

-Burke

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