BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — After the starters got off to a slow start Tuesday night, Indiana’s bench came through in the form of Rob Phinisee and Jerome Hunter then later Trayce Jackson-Davis to lead the Indiana Hoosiers to a 91-65 victory over the North Alabama Lions in Bloomington. The Hoosiers move to 3-0 on the season and the Lions move to 1-2.
The stories of the evening were the balanced attack of the Hoosiers and the ability for the coaching staff to utilize all ten scholarship players effectively. Despite not having senior captain Devonte Green once again due to an injury, Indiana utilized their entire roster with nine players finishing in the 13 to 22 minute range. All ten available scholarship players scored this evening and recorded at least one rebound. Archie Miller took advantage of his luxury to substitute with lineups of all different characteristics.
While the Hoosiers are still looking for their ace shooter, Indiana took advantage of the charity stripe. For an alternative to survive the Big Ten gauntlet without a three point shooter, one can look to free throws for the solution. Indiana took 45 attempts at the free throw line and succeeded at a rate of over 80%. They made 37 of those attempts. Whatever magical free-throw juice was shared in the locker room worked for the Hoosiers tonight.
Indiana got off to a slow start offensively with just six points coming from free throws during the first four minutes. While North Alabama had already hit two shots from deep to carry a two-point lead into the first media timeout.
The Hoosiers’ first field goal came after the timeout with a Phinisee lay-up after moving away from the Joey Brunk pick-in-roll and driving straight to the basket for the score. Indiana then went on a quick six-to-zero run after the sophomore guard added another lay-up and Hunter got on the scoreboard with his first shot.
The Lions kept up offensively with the Hoosiers as they were led by Jamari Blackmon and his four threes in the first period. Simon Skodt Assembly Hall seems to always pick one opposing guard and enable a “cheat code.” Today, Blackmon received that blessing.
Hunter’s offensive production increased as he added seven points to the scoreboard in just four minutes of play. Hunter and Phinisee combined for 18 points while shooting 7-of-11 from the field in the first half of play.
The slow start by the Hoosiers’ starters came to a halt after Al Durham hit two three-pointers in a two-minute stretch to keep Indiana ahead of the Lions. Jackson-Davis aided the lineup on both sides of the floor as he recorded eight points and two blocks in the first half.
With both Hunter and Phinisee’s output, the Hoosiers recorded 26 bench points during the first half and carried a 47-40 lead into the locker room.
At the start of the second half, Jackson-Davis came out scoring the Hoosiers first six of nine points to extend the lead 56-45 at the media timeout. The freshman used his athleticism and size against the smaller Lions to battle inside and push the Hoosiers’ second half lead to as much as 26 points.
Jackson-Davis owned the headlines for the remainder of the game as he played well on both ends of the court. Offensively, he dominated the paint with little that the Lions could do to stop him. He drew fouls with collected footwork in the paint and more importantly, he made the freebies. Jackson-Davis was responsible for 14 of 15 free throws at the line.
Defensively, Jackson-Davis pulled in 6 defensive rebounds and had three blocks on the evening. He finished with a final stat line of 20 points, eight rebounds, and three blocks.
Indiana is back in action this Saturday in a home contest against Troy apart of the Indiana Challenge. Tip-off is set for 8 p.m. and will be televised on the Big Ten Network. That game will take place after the Indiana football program finishes their game against Penn State in Happy Valley.
Featured Photo: Collin Ebel / IndianaHQ