Indiana will return to Bloomington with a third place finish in the 2020 Maui Invitational. Even though the Hoosiers played a forgettable game yesterday against No. 17 Texas, they bounced back in an emphatic performance against Stanford, defeating the Cardinal 79-63 in Asheville, N.C. Wednesday afternoon.
“It wasn’t like we at the end of the game that the sky’s falling everywhere else, but our team was fine. We have a high character group that likes one another,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said.
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The difference on the floor this afternoon seemed fundamental. Indiana missed a number of shots on Tuesday that finished favorably against Stanford. Within the offensive turnaround, Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis led the team with a career-high 31 points.
Miller was proud of the performance from his star center, and he commented on what could have been a mental block in the previous games.
“Trayce needed to get lit up. He needed to get going and we’re not going to be where we need to be unless he plays at a really extremely high level. He answered the bell today. I think, I was
proud of him and just in general, though, I thought our guys, they didn’t blink,” Miller said.
“Trayce, to me, he’s playing in a funk because maybe he’s a little bit bothered by his offensive production or not being able to make a few easy ones that he missed. To me, he played a little down, almost worried about why he wasn’t making some shots or playing well,” Miller said.
“And at the end of the day, I’ve always said this, what makes Trayce special is he’s got an incredible motor and when he runs and rebounds and he plays, it just makes it so much easier. Yeah, we needed to jump start him and he knew that and the good part about Trayce is he’s extremely coachable,” Miller stated.
The other significant force for Indiana was the play of Armaan Franklin, who stepped up after senior captain Al Durham went down with a leg injury yesterday. Franklin finished just shy of a double-double with 13 points and eight rebounds. He added five assists and one block to his stat line as well.
When asked about the performance of Franklin this afternoon, Archie Miller had just one word.
Miller credited Franklin’s growth to his tougher play on the defensive end of the floor as well as his aggressiveness on the glass.
“[Armaan Franklin is] becoming one of the best defenders we have. He’s guarding bigger players, smaller players, all over the floor. He’s accountable right now. He’s playing much tougher. And one of the things that I love about Armaan right now is a year ago at this time I was begging him to rebound. I was begging him to mix it up and get it dirty,” Miller said.
“And my man has, I think, eight rebounds today and he’s averaged, in this tournament I’m almost positive that he’s come up with 18 defensive rebounds at the guard spot for us. He’s averaging six defensive rebounds. That’s just a complete change in his makeup,” Miller continued.
After a tough three-game stretch with back-to-back outings, the Hoosiers will have an opportunity to recover for a week, before traveling down south to take on Florida State in the 2020 Big Ten-ACC Challenge. That may be enough time for the Hoosiers to finally play at full force with the return of their most senior players: Joey Brunk and Al Durham.
Photo Credit: Brian Spurlocki