The Indiana Hoosiers welcomed the Maryland Terrapins to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall Thursday night for their second matchup on the season. The Hoosiers rolled into this one looking to snap a five-game losing streak while the Terrapins were riding a two-game win streak. One had to break their streak.
It wasn’t Maryland. The Hoosiers had control from the opening tip and picked up a much needed win against the Terrapins, 74-64.
With Trey Galloway still sidelined with a lower body injury, for the second straight game, head coach Mike Woodson was forced to revert to the starting lineup that began the season. Xavier Johnson, Parker Stewart, Miller Kopp, Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Race Thompson got things started for the Cream and Crimson.
Things got started early for the Hoosiers on offense as they opened the game 4-of-5 from the field with their only miss being the first shot taken. TJD got things going as he found Thompson cutting to the basket for the easy jam.
Through the first six minutes Xavier Johnson looked like his old self. Four points on a perfect 2-of-2 shooting and two assists had the Hoosiers rolling early. It was not all good though as Johnson picked up his second foul with 13:19 remaining in the first half and had to sit until the halftime break.
Race Thompson was asked about how different this team is when Xavier Johnson is playing this well and answered by saying, “We are going to be hard to beat…we really go as he goes.”
Because of this, Tamar Bates was the first Hoosier to sub in.
With 11:58 remaining in the first half the Hoosiers led 15-14 behind 58 percent shooting from the floor. The bad part? They were allowing the Terrapins to shoot 45 percent.
It was not just Xavier Johnson who was in foul trouble early. With just over ten minutes left in the first half TJD picked up his second foul, forcing him to take a seat next to the coaches for the remainder of the first half.
With Hoosiers in foul trouble, it would be up to the bench to make up for their absence and they did just that. Freshman Tamar Bates and Jordan Geronimo both found the bottom of the basket early off the bench and both did work on the glass. Providing more than just a scoring spark for the Cream and Crimson.
When asked about the bench productivity coach Woodson responded with, “Everybody is a part of this team and play a role.”
The first seven Hoosiers that attempted a shot for IU found the scoring column in some way.
The start of the final eight minutes also started a three minute, 8-0 run for the Hoosiers that saw them grab their largest lead of the night after a made Anthony Leal three-point basket. With just over four minutes remaining IU led by double-figures, 28-18.
Indiana’s ability to find offense with their two best offensive players on the bench with foul trouble was impressive but it was their defense that proved dominant throughout the first half. The Terrapins shot just 36 percent (9-of-25) from the field in the first half and had seven turnovers.
At halftime the Hoosiers led the Terrapins 30-27 behind seven points and five rebounds from Race Thompson. Xavier Johnson pitched in two assists, but it was the reserves who stepped up in a big way to maintain the lead throughout the first half. Leal led all Hoosiers in first half plus/minus with +5.
Maryland opened the second half by knocking down their first three-point attempt and tying the game up at 30.
Trayce Jackson-Davis may be the Hoosiers best player, but Xavier Johnson is the difference maker for this squad. Johnson recorded the best three play stretch of any Hoosier this season as he recorded a lob assists to TJD, followed by a charge taken, then topped off with a monster slam on the other end.
At the under-16 media timeout, the Hoosiers had their largest lead matched as they were up 42-32.
Out of the half Indiana made their first eight shot attempts topped off by a Xavier Johnson three-point basket off the Jackson-Davis assist. TJD’s ability to pass out of the post has been his biggest improvement from last year to this year.
The lead grew to ten, but Maryland was not going anywhere just yet. Starting guard Fatts Russell kept the Terrapins within striking distance with his long-distance shooting. With 9:32 remaining in the game Russell had already hit four three-point baskets.
The Hoosiers led by three with just over nine minutes remaining, 53-30.
Xavier Johnson played his best game as a Hoosier thus far scoring 24 points, dishing out six assists, grabbing one rebounds, all while shooting a perfect 100 percent from the floor. Johnson was the ultimate floor general and controlled the game whenever he was in.
“We needed it,” said Woodson. “Our other two point guards are sitting on the sideline with me…could not have asked for a better performance.”
Through the first 16-minutes of the first half the Hoosiers were shooting 76.5 percent (13-of-17) from the field. Johnson, Jackson-Davis, and Thompson combined to shoot 12-of-14 during that span.
With 3:55 remaining the Hoosiers extended their largest lead of the night to 12 behind a pair of Jackson-Davis free throws.
The Hoosiers went on to defeat the Maryland Terrapins by a final score of 74-64 behind Xavier Johnson’s team-high 24 points and six assists while Race Thompson pitched in a season-high 19 points and team-high nine rebounds.
“This was a big win for our team,” said Woodson. “You lose five straight and you’re searching a little bit for when you are going to stop the bleeding.” Well, the Hoosiers did just that in their victory over Maryland.
The Hoosiers will look to build on their momentum and keep their tournament hopes alive as they travel to Minnesota to face the Golden Gophers on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 6:00 PM EST on ESPN2.
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