In what may be the final Crossroads Classic event, the Hoosiers and Bulldogs matched up in the tenth occurrence of the annual event in downtown Indianapolis. Both teams, who were tied with 6-3 records in the event, got an opportunity to decide a final winner. Indiana (5-2, 0-0) took a four-game winning streak in the event, and they came out victorious over a depleted Butler (1-2, 0-1) roster that has also been troubled by COVID-19 issues.
Behind Armaan Franklin, Indiana opened strong behind the arc, an area that has traditionally troubled Archie Miller’s Hoosier squads. Senior captain Al Durham drilled the first three to open scoring for both teams, but it was Indianapolis-native Franklin that hit the next 3 three-pointers for the Hoosiers in the top-right wing. IU took an early 14-10 advantage by Franklin’s shooting.
Franklin would finish the game with an career-high 20 points that included hitting 5 of 7 from behind the arc.
The Bulldogs would not shy away in the first period despite not having their senior guard leader Aaron Thompson. They outrebounded and out-maneuvered the Hoosiers, despite being down in personnel. Freshman forward Bryze Nze led Butler’s 17 to 11 advantage on the boards at the end of the first half, which ultimately enabled Butler to carry a 5-point lead into the locker room.
Indiana continued to test their fate around the perimeter and did not work the paint like they have against Butler teams in the past. Race Thompson was scoreless for the first half. Butler, on the other hand, took advantage of Indiana’s man-to-man defense in the paint. LaVall Jordan’s front court trio of Nze, Golden, and Coles combined for 17 points alone in the opening segment.
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The script flipped in the second half after a combination of halftime adjustments on offensive strategy and rebounding emphasis by the Hoosiers. Indiana opened the second half on a 23-8 run, which included a 13-0 segment, that quickly erased the Bulldogs’ lead.
Getting back to their core basics, the Hoosiers ran the offense more intentionally through the paint, namely getting the ball in the hands of sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis. He finished the second half with 21 points and 8 rebounds – the tenth time he has finished with 20 or more points.
The other half of Indiana’s front court presence, Thompson, turned his performance around and finished with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Thompson added a much needed aggressive attacker in the paint that Butler simply could not match up.
Ultimately, the Hoosiers’ second segment performance was too much for Butler to overcome, especially considering the lack of conditioning and roster depth. Indiana moves to 5-2 on the season to wrap up their non-conference slate of the 2020-2021 season.
Indiana-Butler Box Scores
Up Next: Northwestern
The Hoosiers will travel back to Bloomington to open up Big Ten play as they take on the Northwestern Wildcats on Wednesday afternoon in Simon Skojdt Assembly Hall. That game will be broadcasted on Big Ten Network at 8:30 pm ET. As always, you can catch live updates at @IndianaHQ.
Featured Photo: Christian Daniels / Indiana University Athletics