It seems like Indiana met their perfect match Wednesday night, surviving an early-season scare against St. John’s University.
The energy was amazing in Assembly Hall, leaving fans pleased while Indiana kept the lid on a close game.
In the first half, Indiana was locked in, getting the job done on both ends of the floor. It was aggressive and made it hard for St. John’s to score, relating back to how they defended against Northern Illinois University last week.
This defensive effort shows how much of a presence head coach Mike Woodson has been to this Hoosier team. We would have never seen this amount of defensive grit from Indiana if they were under previous head coach Archie Miller — this is a new team we are looking at.
Junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was without a doubt the main reason the Hoosiers were getting the looks they received in the first half. With Jackson-Davis getting touches inside the paint, it opened up space for Indiana to take high-percentage shots.
Jackson-Davis was having his way with the defense leading to his 18 points, 10 rebounds and four assist performance. Freshman guard Tamar Bates and sophomore guard Khristian Lander were impressive down the stretch.
Senior forward Miller Kopp and sophomore forward Jordan Geronimo made game-changing plays, taking away St. John’s offensive momentum in the second half.
However, Indiana took its foot off the gas coming into the second half. Indiana let a 13-point lead slip away but never trailed and responded with an answer each time St. John’s got close.
St. John’s junior guard Julian Champagnie was absolutely sensational and had a solid shooting performance scoring with ease. He was a huge problem for the Hoosiers to handle, collecting a smooth and quiet 32 points.
St. John’s played with urgency leading to its shocking comeback into the game. Indiana was tested and did not take advantage of protecting the lead built in the first half.
To be a threat this season, Indiana has to learn how to close-out games avoiding the opportunities for teams to feel like they can stick around.
Though they stretch their record to 3-0, Indiana still has some work to do when it comes to learning how to bury teams. There will be better teams like, St. John’s, who will test Indiana’s limits, and it must stay prepared for a long competitive season ahead.