Indiana improved to 19-8 overall and 10-6 in Big Ten play with a 71-68 win over Illinois on Saturday at Assembly Hall.
Here are five takeaways from victory:
A dominant second half from Trayce Jackson-Davis is essential for IU
It wasn’t Trayce Jackson-Davis’ most effective performance, but the senior forward posted a monster second half that was critical to Indiana’s victory.
Jackson-Davis went 7 for 13 from the field in the second half and grabbed nine rebounds while playing all 20 minutes.
For the game, Jackson-Davis recorded another double-double with 26 points and 12 rebounds and also passed Mike Woodson on Indiana’s all-time scoring list.
“I’ll probably look at it (the scorers list) more at the end of the year, but I’m just glad we found a way to get that one,” Jackson-Davis said after the game. “They were fighting. They were scratching. They were without one of their best players, and these guys showed a lot of heart here. Just finding a way through the stretch and stopping when we needed to, it was important to us.
While Jackson-Davis struggled with pressure from Illinois at times — he committed five turnovers — his dunk with just over six seconds left pushed Indiana to three.
In two games against Illinois this season, Jackson-Davis averaged 30.5 points, 10.5 rebounds, four blocked shots and 3.5 assists.
Jalen Hood-Schifino plays through struggles and shines late
Saturday’s game was a rollercoaster for Jalen Hood-Schifino.
The freshman keeper was just 1 for 8 in the first half and his shot selection was often questionable.
After jumping back with 8:10 remaining and a 3-pointer with 6:54 to go, it looked like Hood-Schifino had finally found his footing offensively.
But a costly poor pass from Hood-Schifino gave Coleman Hawkins a dunk and Illinois the lead at 67-65 with 1:28 to go.
Hood-Schifino, however, had an answer. On IU’s next possession, his jump shot with 1:17 left tied the game at 67. And he then hit a pair of free throws to give Indiana the lead for good with 30 seconds left. .
“He made all the good plays except for throwing the ball out of time out,” Mike Woodson said after the game. “As a coach it tears you apart. But I thought he was making winning plays down the stretch to help us win.
Indiana slumps defensively in the second half
Indiana had no answer for Matthew Mayer in the first half.
The Baylor transfer was on an offensive streak and scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field.
Woodson admitted after the match that he gave a listening ear to Miller Kopp at half-time for his defense against Mayer in the first 20 minutes.
“I thought they were the most aggressive team in the first half,” Woodson said. “And we were just playing on our heels. A ball just floated around the perimeter easily. The guys were just freelancing, beating us off the road. It wasn’t pretty in basketball the first half, I didn’t think.
To Indiana’s credit, the Hoosiers were more aggressive and more consistent defensively in the second half.
Mayer only scored one field goal in the second half and that was one of the main reasons Illinois couldn’t generate any offense. Without Terrence Shannon Jr. (concussion protocol) available, Illinois didn’t have many options other than Mayer. The Illini scored just 30 points after halftime and shot just 9 for 26 from the field.
“I thought the second half, especially as the game started to get tighter, our defense started to pick up and knock out a lot of threes and the great look they had in the first half,” said said Woodson.
Kopp bounces back from a tough night of filming at Northwestern
Miller Kopp’s struggles against Northwestern are well documented.
Wednesday’s performance at the Welsh-Ryan Arena was even more difficult for Kopp as blasphemous cheers rained down from the North West students for most of the game.
But Kopp quickly put that performance behind him for a major rebound on Saturday. The 6-foot-7 senior shot 4-for-5 of 3 and scored 12 points in 31 minutes against Illinois.
Through 16 Big Ten games, Kopp is now 27 for 47 of 3, which ranks second in the league in percentage.
“It was just about locking in this game,” Kopp explained after the game. “And my teammates needed me and I needed them, and we did that.”
Indiana bench production continues to disappoint
After scoring just three points at Northwestern, the Indiana bench wasn’t much better Saturday afternoon at Assembly Hall.
Four players have recorded minutes off the bench and combined for just four points in 40 minutes.
In his postgame press conference, Woodson admitted he hoped to get more from his bench as the end of the regular season neared.
“Somehow I have to get Tamar (Bates) and (Jordan) Geronimo – Malik (Reneau) playing at a good level,” Woodson said. “I have to get them back in the game because we’re going to need guys like that as we continue this journey.
“We still have a long way to go, and I just don’t want to accumulate. Trayce plays almost the entire game. I think he played 37 tonight. We need to start reducing it if we can with Malik and Geronimo giving us a few minutes lead.
The reality for this team, however, could be a tighter rotation when Xavier Johnson returns.
While it’s true that Reneau has been playing better lately, Geronimo and Bates have been inconsistent for most of the season. And it’s hard to see them playing more frequently in high-stakes games when the calendar turns to March.
Filed to: Illinois Fighting Illini, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Miller Kopp, Trayce Jackson-Davis