It began to look like Indiana men’s basketball finally met its match Saturday night against Marshall University before pulling away to win 90-79 to maintain its undefeated record.
Nothing came easy for Indiana and it started to look like Marshall was going to end Indiana’s winning streak. To be honest, Marshall was the better team Saturday night, handling business to put away Indiana early.
Indiana struggled with defending Marshall by not closing the gaps. Marshall passed Indiana defenders way too often while attacking the basket whenever it wanted.
The Thundering Herd scored 28 points in the paint along with sophomore Obinna Anochili-Killen scoring 16 points alone off the bench.
However, Indiana’s favorite baller came and saved the day.
Without the presence of junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, Indiana would have received its first loss of the season. Jackson-Davis exploded in the first half and was a threat to post defenders, scoring 22 points in 17 minutes on just 14 field goal attempts.
Jackson-Davis played a tremendous role in stopping the bleeding from a 17-0 Thundering Herd run which created a problem for the Hoosiers. The All-American set the bar by scoring a career-high 43 points, becoming the first Hoosier player since 1994 to score 40 or more.
This was Jackson-Davis’s most dominant performance in a Hoosier uniform, and Indiana hopes to see more from the Hoosier hero.
Senior guard Xavier Johnson played a consistent game, collecting 20 points with seven rebounds and assists. Johnson remained aggressive, pressuring the ball full-court against Marshall standout Taevon Kinsey and grabbing five steals to build defensive momentum for Indiana.
Johnson will be crucial for Indiana this year by adding his offensive and defensive spark for his teammates to build off of. Indiana have to find players who are willing to step up when Johnson and Jackson-Davis are not playing well.
If Johnson and Jackson-Davis are not having good games, then Indiana will have a tough time putting away teams considering its tough schedule ahead.
Turnovers were a major problem for Indiana. The team gathered 15 throughout the game. It looks like head coach Mike Woodson and his coaching staff will need to get their legs ready for running, like he mentioned in Jackson State’s post game conference in response to the nine turnovers made in the first half.
Marshall was not afraid to run with Indiana as it sped the team's offense, leading to careless possessions causing turnovers throughout the game. Overall, Indiana found a way to slow down its offense by getting players like senior Parker Stewart settled around the perimeter.
It is scary to think of how the Hoosiers will play as their schedule is starting to thicken with tougher competition.
Seeing 15 turnovers Saturday night is unacceptable even with the great performance by Jackson-Davis. Indiana has to tighten up and take care of the ball better as the season progresses.
There will be teams looking to capitalize on Indiana’s mistakes and careless possessions which will threaten its ongoing undefeated season. Indiana has to play with purpose, making teams play at its pace as if its life depended on it.