NASSAU PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Indiana men’s basketball is officially back as they took on BC Mega in their first of two exhibition games this weekend in the Bahamas. The million-dollar question that everyone wanted the answer to…who was going to start for the Cream and Crimson?
In his first game action as head coach, Mike Woodson made a few changes to the starting lineup.
Usual starters Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson filled up the frontcourt for the Hoosiers. Transfers Miller Kopp (from Northwestern University), Xavier Johnson and Parker Stewart (Both from the University of Pittsburgh) completed the starting lineup for Indiana.
From the beginning of the game, it was evident that defense had been an emphasis leading up to this trip. In the first half the Hoosiers forced 11 turnovers. Taking charges, being up in the passing lanes, and being overall disruptive.
The Hoosiers finished the game forcing 24 turnovers.
Early in the game the Hoosiers forced a turnover, Xavier Johnson pushed the ball up the court and found TJD for a wide-open slam dunk that brought the roughly 300 IU fans to their feet.
Indiana led BC Mega 13-7 with 12:59 remaining in the first half.
“I’ve always believed this…defense wins games,” said Woodson. “If we can put ourselves in a position to defend every night I know we will be in every game.”
On the offensive side of the ball fans in attendance were able to see a side of the Indiana Hoosiers that has been missing in recent memory.
The three ball.
Miller Kopp, Trey Galloway, Tamar Bates, and Jordan Geronimo all knocked down jumpers from behind the arc in the first half. The Hoosiers shot 44% (4-9) from three in the first half of the game.
5-star freshman Tamar Bates checked in and gave the Hoosiers immediate impact on both the offense and defensive side of the ball. Bates was 5-8 from the field including a three, grabbed a rebound, and was disruptive on defense causing a turnover and picking up a steal.
“I really want to give a lot of credit to my teammates just finding me in open spots,” said Bates. “I try to get to all three levels and be effective. I believe that reps remove doubt and I have put a lot of work in.”
Bates’s performance did not go unnoticed as teammate Jackson-Davis spoke highly on how he was able to play in his first college game.
“He’s a dude. He’s a pit bull,” said Jackson-Davis. “He’s going to come out there, he’s going to play super hard on defense and he’s going to get his buckets.
Bates finished the game with 14 points.
Indiana led BC Mega at halftime 41-32.
BC Mega came out of the second half with a strong push to make it a five-point game but Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers made sure that was as close as the game would get.
The Hoosiers went on a run powered by Miller Kopp and Trayce Jackson-Davis that would push the lead back to double-digits.
Kopp spoke on the teams ability to gain energy not only off of made baskets, but also the little things.
“Obviously you feed off of makes, but what’s more important is that we fed off of Trayce getting a dunk, someone taking a charge, having a great rotation on defense, an extra pass that led to a shot, that is the stuff that really matters” said Kopp.
With just over nine minutes remaining IU led 66-53.
That lead would balloon to 15 with back-to-back baskets by Rob Phinisee and TJD.
The Hoosiers have played great defense in the past but had been stifled by the lack of offensive production outside of Trayce Jackson-Davis in previous years.
That was not the case today.
Jackson-Davis led the way for the Hoosiers on the offensive side of the ball with 21 points. Kopp and Bates both had 14 while Thompson was able to add nine points.
The Cream and Crimson start their international trip 1-0 as they defeat BC Mega 79-66. Indiana will face BC Mega one more time this weekend on Sunday, Aug. 15 a one o’clock EST.