Sophomore forward Race Thompson streaked down the hardwood and planted himself on the left-wing as he toed the three-point line. With 13 minutes left in the first half, he collected himself and checked the defense; he was in the clear.
Thompson secured the ball with two hands and rose to launch a 3-pointer to the dismay of the fans at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Thompson had only attempted three shots from behind the arc last year.
Thompson’s shot was off-target and bounced off the rim. But, the ball landed right into the awaiting arms of sophomore forward Damezi Anderson, who had shifted to the right block.
Anderson didn’t hesitate. He calmly sprung up, with the ball clasped between his hands, and raised his arms above his head in preparation for a putback. With a flick of his wrist, Anderson dropped the ball through the net with a soft touch.
IU crashed the glass with tenacity throughout its dominant 100-62 win over Troy University on Saturday night. On the offensive side, IU hauled in 15 rebounds opening up 18 second-chance points over the course of the game.
Similar to Anderson, most of the rebounds led to opportunities near the basket.
With just over six minutes left to play in the first half, senior guard Devonte Green, in his first game this season, cut through the lane and hoisted up a 15-foot jumper, but was unable to convert.
When in doubt, try again.
Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who grabbed 14 rebounds, including four on the offensive end, slammed in Green’s miss.
The 6-foot 9-inch Jackson-Davis has been key for IU’s prosperity on the glass. Jackson-Davis said he has noticed the difference in rebounding at the high school level to the college stage and has had to change his approach. Regardless, he's made a seemingly smooth transition, as he entered Saturday's contest averaging eight rebounds.
“Going against bigger competition you really got to carve out,” Jackson-Davis said. “In high school you could really just jump and get the ball, but you really got to make an emphasis on hitting your guy and anticipating the ball.”
The IU offense becomes more dynamic when it gets second chance opportunities with the success it had against Troy.
IU head coach Archie Miller has been emphasizing rebounding since the start of the season.
“It's a huge part of the game when you have the ability to offensive rebound,” Miller said. “It breaks the opponent's back on second shots. Typically you're going to get a basket, a good look off some type of offensive rebound, or get fouled. That's a huge part of what we're doing.”
After its first three games, the Hoosiers maintained a rebounding margin of over 12. The Hoosiers increased its mark against the Trojans as they asserted themselves with a 51-38 advantage.
Last year, the Hoosiers only out-rebounded its opponents with a margin of slightly over one. The Hoosiers struggled to shoot three-pointers, ending the season with a 31% clip, and not even reaching 47% in total. When they weren’t able to get multiple looks and with a low shooting percentage, IU's offensive efficiency plummeted, causing offensive troubles.
Against Troy, IU united the two areas as they rebounded with tenacity and shot with confidence. The Hoosiers shot almost 40% from three-point land, and over 50% from the field.
Not only does IU’s determination to rebound the ball create optimism for the season, but it also shows the Hoosiers' aggressiveness in all aspects of the game.
IU drew 25 fouls against Troy, which is less than the obscene 31 that it racked up against the University of North Alabama on Tuesday night.
The energy also translates to the defensive side.
With less than a minute left in the first half, Jackson-Davis rotated into the paint and forced a turnover, sending IU into a fast break opportunity.
IU has not been able to consistently lean on its defense as it did on Saturday though. The Hoosiers have allowed opponents to shoot 40% from three entering the matchup with Troy.
“We're not great on defense by any stretch, but we are consistently I think rebounding the ball with concentration level,” Miller said. “It's something that’s on our mind. A lot of different types of guys contributing in their area.”
IU showed flashes of offensive explosion, and defensive prowess against Troy, and it all starts on the glass.
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