It may not have happened as quick as IU players and fans wanted, but Indiana (10-2, 1-1 B1G) took care of business in their second-to-last non-conference game of the year against Northern Kentucky. The Hoosiers dominated inside with Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis to win 79-61
Against NKU, Mike Woodson made his first change of the season to the starting lineup. Bloomington native Anthony Leal made his first career start while Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis still got the nod to start. Thus, Parker Stewart became the odd man out, and the Big Ten’s leader in three-point percentage (49.1 percent) came off the bench.
“Very special…I couldn’t really stop smiling,” said Leal. “I did not tell my parents because I wanted it to be a surprise for them…hopefully the first of many.”
Jackson-Davis got things going early for the Hoosiers. The preseason All-American started quickly on the offensive end, hitting his first three shots around the rim, grabbing the Hoosiers first six points.
Tamar Bates and Rob Phinisee were the first Hoosiers to come off the bench. In his first five minutes of action, Phinisee attacked the rim and made two layups while also knocking down his first three-point attempt. The senior point guard led all players in scoring at halftime with seven points while also grabbing two rebounds.
When asked about the senior point guards play head coach Mike Woodson had nothing but positive things to say, “Rob is a big piece of this puzzle man…I thought tonight was one of his best games of the season.”
With 9:38 remaining in the first half, IU led 19-5.
NKU started the game shooting just 2-for-23 from the field, or 8.7 percent, and only had five points up until the 5:21 mark of the first half. Indiana was 14-for-27, or 52 percent, from the field in the first half.
A large part of Indiana’s first half success came from the bench. Phinisee led the way with seven, Jordan Geronimo scored five points with one rebound, and Michael Durr had what may have been his most productive half of basketball in an IU jersey. Durr scored six points, four of which came at the charity stripe.
The second half had some similarities to the start of the first half, as the team started slow overall. With that said, Jackson-Davis had a quick six points for the Cream and Crimson, just as he did in the first half.
With 14:36 remaining in the game Parker Stewart checked in for the first time after not starting. There was no clear answer as to why Stewart did not start, but when asked about it head coach Mike Woodson said, “I am not addressing that. It is an in-house matter”.
Defensively the Hoosiers struggled in the second half compared to their performance in the first half. NKU scored more points (16) in the first eight minutes of play in the second half then they did all of the first half (14).
With 5:54 remaining the Hoosiers led 64-43. As the game came to a close the Hoosiers ran away with their tenth victory of the season.
The Hoosiers were led by Jackson-Davis with 21 points and six rebounds, while Xavier Johnson led the team with five assists. Indiana shot 58 percent from the field (32-for-55) while only allowing NKU to shoot 36 percent overall.
Up next for the Hoosiers is their final non-conference game of the year when they welcome UNC-Asheville (8-5) to Assembly Hall on Dec. 29 in the final game of 2021.
Photo by Indiana Athletics