The Hoosiers opened Saturday afternoon with arguably their best performance end-to-end against Michigan State. Getting the ball inside to Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers were able to build an early eight point lead with the sophomore’s relentless attack.
Jackson-Davis opened the game with two layups, a dunk, and four free throws that allowed him to get to double digits within the first seven minutes of the game.
But it was Indiana’s defense that impressed the most. The Hoosiers played tightly on Michigan State defenders and their size and length created a lot of problems for Tom Izzo’s group in the passing lanes.
“I thought we started the game really good defensively and got good offense in the first half but did not make shots,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said after the game.
Race Thompson alone had five steals at half time, and he finished the game with six.
Six steals was the highest single player total since OG Anunoby in 2017.
Archie Miller said after the game, “Race played hard and was very active defensively. I thought Trayce did a much better job for our team today in terms of impacting things at the rim. Race got a lot of deflection on the ball. He was very active with his hands.”
But even with the lead into half, the Hoosiers unraveled in the second half.
Indianapolis-native and former Indiana recruit Aaron Henry created a lot of problems for the Hoosiers.
“Aaron Henry is a tough matchup. They isolated him a lot in the post or they isolated him just on the perimeter and we did not have a good matchup for him. He jumped over top of us, played bigger and we did not have a floor tight enough,” Miller added.
Jackson-Davis, who himself had a career high and game high of 32 points, noted that it was primarily Henry who turned things around for Michigan State.
“It was really Aaron Henry down the stretch. He really took over the game for them and put them on his back. He was making tough shots after tough shots. Our defense wasn’t holding up and they got easy baskets at the rim and easy shots going downhill. That really hurt us a lot.”
Henry had 11 points in the first half and added another 16 in the second half. He led Michigan State with 27 total points in 40 minutes of play.
Among other problems, the Indiana coach mentioned that mistakes cost the Hoosiers the game, despite having the lead. Between costly turnovers and costly defensive breakdowns, Indiana created a hole that they could not get out of in the latter part of the game.
“They spread us on ball screens at times and our coverages were not there. Michigan State is very good on the glass and they are very good in transition. They got 12 offensive rebounds and 14 second chance points. I thought our second half offense was bad after the first five minutes. We had seven turnovers and all seven were tough and bad plays. We took all the sprit and momentum away from ourselves. I would say the second half of the second half was not good for us on both ends of the court.”
Before the game, Indiana was starting to build some comfort into their tournament resume. Instead, the Hoosiers walked away with a loss that may re-question Indiana’s chances at the 2021 NCAA Tournament hosted at home, literally.
The Hoosiers have four more opportunities and the Big Ten Tournament to potentially turn things around.
Featured Photo: Indiana University Athletics