Final out of Bloomington: Indiana 82 – Michigan State 69.
The Indiana Hoosiers hosted Michigan State Spartans yesterday and delivered a great defensive performance that once again fueled an emotionally charged Indiana victory. With their 3rd straight win, the Hoosiers now improve to 4-4 in conference play. The Hoosiers are playing like we all thought they would be capable of and it’s great to see this Hoosier squad continuing to bring the defensive tenacity necessary to win these tough matchups in the Big Ten.
Joey Hauser proved to be the most deadly Spartan in this game going for 22 points and six rebounds. Adding to Sparty’s totals was an impressive shooting display by Jaden Akins. Akins got 15 points, shooting 6 for 8 from the field and 3 for 4 from 3 point range. While the Michigan State Spartans got out to the quick 17-8 lead 6 minutes into this one, Michigan State looked to be handling the Hoosiers adequately until a 10 point run in favor of the Hoosiers. Following this moment, the Michigan State Spartans would not find themselves in the driver seat. They would take the lead two more times in the game, but never felt to be truly in control of this one. That is largely credit to the performance of our captain Trayce Jackson-Davis and the Hoosiers who stepped up to the occasion and dispatched the ever-reliable Tom Izzo and the Spartans.
Trayce Jackson-Davis continued to take his emotional energy to a new level. Delivering a performance brimming with attitude, Trayce was not going to be stopped in this game. Even with the defense collapsing very adequately on him within the paint, the edge that Trayce had brought to the game propelled him past any look or scheme that Tom Izzo and the Michigan State Spartans could have possibly thrown at him.
While Trayce started this day out pretty slowly, with 0-4 shooting from the field, Trayce was able to get his footing and post a great stat line while also being the subject of most of Izzo’s game planning efforts. While the monstrous stat line of 31 points and 15 rebounds could make you think Trayce was perfect, he did so on 10 of 20 shooting from the field. Even when he’s the focus of the defense, or even when he’s not shooting as reliably as normal, Trayce appears he is going to get his at all costs at this point. Good for him for bringing the intensity now. He has unlocked in himself the next gear necessary to be competing against the top brass of the Big Ten game in and game out. He seems to have turned the corner to now embrace being the focus of each and every coaching staff the Hoosiers will face. This is the most competitive Hoosier fans have seen Trayce yet. After seeing Trayce Jackson-Davis embracing the villain role a bit over his last two performances, the Hoosiers’ can’t afford for TJD to lose an ounce of whatever it is he’s been bringing to the court these last 3 games. Trayce sets the tone defensively, and is now punishing the opposition offensively, despite their most concentrated efforts to stop him.
Jordan Geronimo was intense on the defensive end, possibly a bit too much so. Finding himself in foul trouble, Jordan was limited to 13 minutes in this one before fouling out. While I would have appreciated some more minutes from Jordan, everyone stepped up in this one to ensure that even without his massive boost of energy the Hoosiers could pull through. Jordan has been so vital to the Hoosiers two wins heading into this game, that I thought another high caliber performance by him would be needed for an Indiana victory. Luckily, the Hoosiers were able to find enough production from unexpected locations to handle the Spartans. As for Jordan’s lost frontcourt presence, Malik Reneau stepped up once again in this game to show he can alleviate some of the stress that comes with frontcourt foul trouble.
Malik continued his growth in confidence and on court presence in this one. With Jordan in foul trouble, Malik stepped up to subsidize his absence and did so munching 21 minutes for the Hoosiers. In that large amount of time on the court, Malik Reneau handled himself with poise limiting his play to one turnover allowed. Each game seems to be garnering Malik more composure here, and with Race getting more and more minutes moving forward. It seems like after all is said and done, Indiana may be better in March for Thompson having had to miss some time here in January. Malik ended his night with 5 points and 5 rebounds. Solid numbers for our young big man.
Jalen Hood-Schifino had an uncharacteristically tough day of shooting. Going 1 for 6 from the field, and 0 for 3 from deep, Jalen was definitely off in this one. While this should have been cause for alarm by all measure, Indiana’s entire team stepped up to win despite the less than ideal showing from Jalen. This is what the best teams are capable of. The best teams out there have players who can step up in the moments when the go-to options just aren’t working as drawn up. In this game, it was absolutely Trey Galloway and Tamar Bates that did that for the Hoosiers.
Trey Galloway looked to take huge strides in the development of his reliability for the Indiana Hoosiers. Trey took another step in this game, leading the way for the Indiana backcourt production. Going 3 for 3 from deep, and 5 for 8 from the field, Trey stepped up to deliver 17 points and 3 assists and also clocked a massive 35 minutes. Following Jalen taking a spill, Trey stepped up to alleviate some of the ball handling responsibilities and in doing so, was able to have a game without turning the ball over. For 35 minutes, while asked to handle the ball as often as he is, that is quite an accomplishment.
After not having to contribute much scoring over the last two games, Tamar Bates was leaned on heavily for offensive production tonight. He did not disappoint in the slightest. In his 27 minutes on the floor, Tamar Bates was able to tally 17 points. When Jalen’s shot was not falling, Trey and Tamar stepped up to deliver any production necessary for the Hoosiers to get the win here. Not only that, at half time his daughter mopped the floor with the competition, winning the halftime baby race. Incredible performances by a couple of Hoosiers who stepped up when the Indiana Faithful needed them to!
Great to see Race back in action. Albeit, he wasn’t going to be asked to do a lot today, but on court time is progress. It’ll be interesting to see how the minutes are distributed as I’m sure Race will log more and more. With that in mind, I don’t think there’s a man more capable to navigate that at this moment that Mike Woodson.
Over the last three games Mike Woodson has showed a radical adjustment in his coaching demeanor. He’s calling timeouts sooner, stopping any bleeding before it gets out of hand. He’s utilizing different court combinations to counter opposition looks more frequently. Everything he has done as of late is working. The inabilities to adjust on the fly are gone. Mike has been more willing to facilitate in game changes and his confidence in doing so could only have grown as a result of these last three performances. Mike Woodson has these guys fired up and ready to go, with only more and more help on the way.
While Indiana has often times, prior to this point, been in games where the difference of 3 pt. shooting and foul shooting is the key to an Indiana loss, that was not the case for our boys in this game. The Hoosiers brought to Assembly Hall an ability and willingness to drain the long range. On top of that, the Hoosiers won the turnover battle today. Their defensive pressure was headlined by Trayce and his 5 Blocks, but it was Indiana’s perimeter defense that stepped up today. The Hoosiers closed out great, holding Michigan State to 28.6% from three, as Indiana shot 60%.
This resounding win over Izzo and the Spartans isn’t a case of the Hoosiers are hot right now. With the talent on the roster, prior to some deflating losses along the way, Hoosier fans would have expected to beat this admittedly good Spartan team. Indiana is now playing with the attitude, tenacity, and defensive identity that can now deliver on all the hype that was held for this team to start the season. These Hoosiers are now playing like a Big Ten favorite, and I don’t know about Minnesota, but I wouldn’t want to be the next stop on the Hoosier redemption tour.
Thank you for taking the time to read these short thoughts by a Hoosier fan, just writing to pass the time in between tips. I release a podcast episode breaking down a few thoughts post game in tandem with these posts. So, if you like what you read and would want to hear a few thoughts of mine, check out the OFTEN DAUNTED podcast available wherever you get yours.
Have a great day Hoosier Fans. We are so back. Down with the Gophers!
LUX ET VERITAS