Indiana hasn’t seen the top ten in the AP Poll since December 18, 2017. That could very well change on Monday.

The Hoosiers (3-0), who trailed by as many as nine points in the first half, held off Xavier (3-1), 81-79. It was IU’s 4th win in five Gavitt Games matchups, as well as their first non-conference road win since 2011.

In front of a hostile crowd at Cintas Center in Cincinnati, Mike Woodson rolled out the same starting five against the Musketeers: Xavier Johnson, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis.

Jackson-Davis began the game well, but the other Hoosiers could not settle into the game in the first few minutes. Jackson-Davis scored the game’s first four points, but Xavier responded with a run.

The Musketeers scored eight straight to take the lead. Souley Boum, Zach Freemantle and Colby Jones drove the Xavier surge. In fact, those three players scored Xavier’s first 16 points of the night.

A three-point play from Nunge, with a Malik Reneau foul included, gave Xavier a 22-13 advantage, easily IU’s largest deficit of the early season.

Xavier Johnson helped Indiana work their way back into the game. Johnson, who had just 11 points in 36 minutes through two games, went for double digits in the first half alone. His speed caused problems for the Musketeers, especially his opposing point guard Boum, who dealt with foul trouble all game.

After drilling a three-pointer to bring Indiana within a point with 2:55 left in the first half, official Larry Scirotto assessed him a technical for directing words at the Xavier bench. Officiating was a hot topic for both fanbases on Friday night.

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After halftime, the Hoosiers accelerated their way in front, thanks to a Thompson dunk and a Johnson score. More importantly, Xavier’s starting PG, Souley Boum, picked up his 3rd and 4th fouls in quick succession. The fourth came with 17:18 left.

Malik Reneau, in his first collegiate road game, found his stride in the early stages of the second half. He scored three baskets and recorded multiple rebounds, before referees served him with a technical foul for taunting.

IU led by eight before the whistle, but Xavier used the foul to propel themselves back to even terms. Adam Kunkel and Zach Freemantle played a major role in Xavier’s 11-3 run. Moments later, Kunkel hit a three, Freemantle converted a mid-range bucket, and Xavier led 62-60.

Johnson and Reneau wouldn’t let IU fall behind any further. They scored IU’s next 11 points, and Reneau then assisted a thunderous slam from Jackson-Davis to give Indiana a 75-68 lead.

Miller Kopp drained a corner three to give IU a 78-70 lead that felt like, with 2:25 left, it would be enough. Not so fast.

Two Nunge free throws, a Xavier Johnson turnover, and a Colby Jones three-point play brought Xavier within three. Kopp made two free throws, but Boum responded with one of his own and then a big three-pointer with 56 seconds to go to bring Xavier within 80-79. Neither team scored a field goal from that point.

Jackson-Davis turned it over, but Johnson and Kopp forced a tie-up to regain possession. Reneau missed two free throws, but Trey Galloway and Reneau coaxed a miss from Adam Kunkel inside with a couple seconds left. Johnson split a pair, then sealed the victory with a steal.

Up Next

IU’s next regular season game is Sunday vs. Miami (OH) at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Game time is scheduled for 5:30p ET on BTN.

Featured Image: CBS Sports

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