Nice newspapers, Illinois fans.
Road wins aren’t easy in the Big Ten, and they’re especially difficult when you’ve lost some traumatic ones as of late. Tonight, that’s going to be a happy trip back to Bloomington.
After an encouraging victory over Wisconsin on Saturday, Indiana (12-6, 3-4 B1G) controlled Illinois (13-6, 4-4 B1G) for the entire game on Thursday night, winning in lopsided fashion, 80-65.
Mike Woodson still did not have the services of Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson, as the veterans were still dealing with their injuries, so the same starting lineup of Jalen Hood-Schifino, Trey Galloway, Miller Kopp, Jordan Geronimo, and Trayce Jackson-Davis took the floor against the Fighting Illini.
The home team scored the first four points, thanks to Sencire Harris and Terrence Shannon. The Illini crowd roared their approval, and Woodson called a quick timeout.
It is not an understatement to say that timeout changed the course of the entire game. IU regrouped in the huddle and scored the next 12 points in the game, with Galloway, Geronimo, and Jackson-Davis all tallying baskets.
Meanwhile, IU’s defense restricted the normally high-flying Illini on the other end. Illinois, who had scored at least 75 points in each of their last four games, all victories, went on a field goal drought of over seven minutes after the timeout. By the time Jayden Epps ended the skid, Indiana held an 18-7 lead.
Trayce Jackson-Davis would not let Indiana lose tonight. He quickly rendered Illinois’ gameplan for him ineffective, as he tortured Dain Dainja and Coleman Hawkins on a 1-on-1 basis. Brad Underwood refused to deploy double teams on IU’s All-American big man, and Jackson-Davis attacked Illinois in a variety of ways.
When Illinois slowed him down from scoring, Jackson-Davis rebounded, blocked shots, and distributed the basketball. He would finish with his most impressive single game in an IU uniform.
Illinois’ best chance in this game was drawing more fouls than Indiana did over the course of the night. Even though both teams entered the contest fouling and getting fouled at about the same rate in Big Ten play, the Fighting Illini had a +7 foul differential in the first half. However, as has been the case this season, Illinois struggled at the free throw line, making just 5 of 10 attempts in the first half.
Illinois finished the game with a +8 differential in the foul department, committing just nine to IU’s 17. They finished the game making nine of 23 free throws (39.1%). IU made 9 of 13 (69.2%).
The Illini never came closer than eight points the rest of the way. IU had some issues negotiating Illinois’ full-court press, as the Hoosiers committed consecutive 10-second violations to give some life to the pro-Illinois crowd. IU had 17 turnovers in the game, and Woodson will look to have IU fix that heading in to Michigan State on Sunday.
Jackson-Davis was relentless in the second half, elevating his game further than what he produced in the first 20 minutes. He threw down a collection of impressive dunks, grabbed five rebounds, and even made all four of his free throw attempts after the break. When Indiana needed a basket, he delivered.
He made his first nine shots. He got fouled on a three-point attempt. Ultimately, he extinguished any chance of an Illinois comeback with a stretch of seven straight points in the closing stages to push a 14-point lead up to 21. State Farm Center, normally raucous for big games, emptied out early as IU clinched their biggest win of 2023.
IU will take on Michigan State at Assembly Hall on Sunday, as the Hoosiers will look to build a three-game winning streak. Tipoff is scheduled for 12 PM ET on CBS. MSU ended a two-game skid with a win over Rutgers earlier on Thursday night.
Featured Image: Indiana Basketball