On the day before Thanksgiving, there were no pre-Turkey Day tricks at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 26 points and gobble gobble’d up 11 rebounds, freshmen Khristian Lander and Trey Galloway feasted in transition, and IU carved up the Golden Eagles’ defense all game in an 89-59 win to open up the much-anticipated 2020-21 season.
Before the game started, Joey Brunk, IU’s senior captain, was held out of the game for “precautionary reasons” due to a sore back. Archie Miller started Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Jackson-Davis, and Race Thompson in the season’s inaugural game. Even though all five Hoosiers were on the squad last year, they never began a game together. On the other side, Jr. Clay, who was selected to the preseason all-OVC first team, missed the contest for the Golden Eagles. BTN stated that his absence was due to COVID-19 protocols.
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IU jumped out to a 10-4 lead, with Jackson-Davis grabbing five boards by the first media timeout. The Golden Eagles bounced right back though, taking a 13-12 lead with 13:30 left in the first half, thanks to a couple Keishawn Davidson buckets. IU scored eight straight after that point, featuring the first baskets of the season by Jerome Hunter, a three-point make, Lander, and Galloway. IU never looked back.
The first eight Hoosiers who entered the game all hit a field goal in the first eight minutes of the contest. Jordan Geronimo and Anthony Leal also appeared in the first half. A cool moment occurred with 3:00 left until the intermission. All four freshmen played on the floor at the same time, with Race Thompson rounding out the five on the floor.
Jackson-Davis overpowered the Golden Eagles all night. He brought out his impressive repertoire of post moves, but he showed a couple of key improvements from last season. First, Jackson-Davis used his right hand more frequently than last season, which will give opposing coaches something to think about in upcoming contests. He also displayed a smooth mid-range jump shot, which he converted within the first few minutes of the second half.
To put some whipped cream on the pumpkin pie, Jackson-Davis even grabbed a rebound and threw a one-handed lead pass all in one motion, springing a Galloway fast break basket. Jackson-Davis finished with his 13th career double-double.
Of the four IU freshmen, Galloway and Lander stood out from the get-go. Galloway, the 6-4 swingman from Culver, made his first impact play within a minute of entering the game, setting up Hunter’s three-pointer. Galloway went on to score nine points before halftime, only trailing Jackson-Davis’ 14 and Phinisee’s nine.
Lander registered five points, two assists, and a steal in his IU debut. His impact was felt beyond the box score, however, as the first-year point guard looked sharp and always seemed to be in the right place at the right time. He showed no hesitation pulling the trigger from deep; all four of his shot attempts came from three-point land or close to it.
IU did show a couple areas of weakness in a game where they led by double digits for the final 27 minutes. The free throw performance needs to get better. IU missed 14 of their first 19 attempts from the charity stripe. Perhaps playing a game in front of no fans played a role in that subpar showing. Regardless, the Hoosiers will have to get better in that area. IU also went just 4-for-17 behind the arc in the contest. They had plenty of good looks, but those will have to go down in Big Ten play.
Up next: Indiana heads off to
Maui Asheville, N.C. for the 2020 Maui Invitational. The Hoosiers take on Providence College in round 1, with tip-off on Monday, at 2:30 PM ET, on ESPN2. The Friars received votes in the preseason Top 25 and routed Fairfield, 97-56, in their season opener. The Hoosiers will also play on Tuesday and Wednesday next week in the eight-team tournament.
Featured Image: Indiana University Athletics