Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Indiana men’s basketball maintains defensive energy against Jackson State

<p>IU head coach Mike Woodson speaks to sophomore guard Khristian Lander during the game against Jackson State University on Nov. 23, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Lander scored 3 points in 17 minutes of playing time Tuesday against Jackson State.</p>

IU head coach Mike Woodson speaks to sophomore guard Khristian Lander during the game against Jackson State University on Nov. 23, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Lander scored 3 points in 17 minutes of playing time Tuesday against Jackson State.

Hoosier fans should be excited about the start Indiana men’s basketball is having this season. It might be too early in the season to say this, but the way Indiana has been playing, it may have earned its way into the March Madness conversation. 

These last few games, Indiana has played tremendously well including Tuesday night against Jackson State University. 

Even though Jackson State wasn't the best competition, Indiana continuously proved how defensively dominant it can be, ending with a 31-17 lead in the first half. Indiana held Jackson State to 21% shooting from the floor for the game.

Junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis led Indiana defensively as usual, collecting four blocks and destroying the offensive play of Jackson State. The Tigers only made 5 of 26 field goals and had tons of useless possessions that didn’t result in points. 

No matter what kind of team you play, defensive effort has to be shown to make a name out of your competition. Indiana continues to make statements time after time, proving it might become a tough team to compete against when it gets to conference play. 

What’s most exciting to see is Indiana having the top defensive field goal percentage in the country so far this season. This accomplishment won’t go unnoticed as the Hoosiers have been waiting for the defensive effort to step up since former coach Archie Miller was coaching. 

Head coach Mike Woodson said since the season started he wanted his players to be ready to play once they were called — they indeed were tonight. 

A surprise performance from senior Xavier Johnson started the game with a different approach. Johnson gathered 14 points, seven rebounds and three assists to close out the Tigers, playing with poise Tuesday night, including the way he defended after being in foul trouble last game against the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. 

Not only did Johnson come to play, seniors Miller Kopp and Parker Stewart were shooting lights-out for Indiana, combining for 20 points and five three-pointers made. These two players were key contributors to Indiana’s lead Tuesday night and it has to continue in order to be successful this season. 

Woodson was determined to reduce the number of turnovers after having 27 against Louisiana. Woodson said he was shaking after the Hoosiers had eight turnovers at the half, but they finished the game with only 11.

Indiana’s biggest potential issue was a lack of efficiency at the free throw line Tuesday night. It was 16-of-26 from the charity stripe. Free throws are crucial to winning basketball games to keep teams from building momentum.

Like Woodson said, free throws need more improvement. Once Indiana can fix that, they will be a very tough team to beat, considering the fire power Woodson has coming off the bench.

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