On IU’s first possession of the second half, sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis received an entry pass one stride inside the 3-point line. The Preseason All-American waited for the Spartan double-team to pass before he backed down his man into the middle of the paint, making a quick move and draining the hook shot over his right shoulder.
On the Hoosiers’ next possession, it was junior forward Race Thompson showing his strength down low. After receiving an entry pass on the left block, Thompson lowered his shoulder into junior Joey Hauser, knocking him back. With one more hard dribble into Hauser’s chest, Thompson created just enough separation to lay the ball off the glass for the layup.
The Hoosiers’ forwards had success all afternoon against the Spartans, despite falling 78-71 Saturday.
Michigan State was one of the few teams this season that decided to not help off IU’s shooters and opted to play IU one-on-one in the paint. As a result, the Hoosiers’ forwards had one of their best games of the season.
Jackson-Davis and Thompson combined for 49 of the Hoosiers’ 71 points. Thompson finished with 15 points, and Jackson-Davis had a career-high 34.
On top of his scoring ability, Jackson-Davis put pressure on the Spartans’ defense by creating contact and drawing fouls on a consistent basis.
“So he scored 34, he drew 13 fouls, shot 16 free throws and made 12 of them,” Miller said. “He's 11-for-18, and they didn't really have an answer for him.”
Alongside Jackson-Davis, Thompson also had one of his best games of the season.
In the first half, it was Thompson’s defense that stood out as he swiped five steals in the first 10 minutes of the game — half of IU’s total made shots in the first 20 minutes. The Minneapolis native would finish with a career-high seven steals, grabbed six rebounds and recorded one block which he sent flying into the crowd of cardboard cutouts behind the basket.
While Thompson stuffed the box score, it was the plays that don’t show up that were most impressive. Whenever IU needed a hustle play or someone to chase down a loose ball, Thompson was the one sprinting across the court and lunging out of bounds to save the ball and give his team an extra possession.
“Race played very hard and is very active defensively,” Miller said. “I thought he and Trayce did a much better job for our team today in terms of impacting things at the rim. Race got a lot of deflections off the ball and he was active with his hands.”
In the second half, Thompson provided the Hoosiers with a second scoring option as the Spartans started to emphasize slowing down Jackson-Davis. Thompson scored 11 of his 15 points in the second half on 5-of-7 shooting.
“The second half he did a really good job for us helping give us another guy offensively we could go to,” Miller said. “Race did a good job. He was active most of the game, very great effort, never question it.”