There is nothing better than seeing in-state rivals battle it out on a Saturday afternoon. There are, however, better ways to win a basketball game than Indiana did Saturday.
In the last ever game of the Crossroads Classic, Hoosier nation did not disappoint, representing Indiana men’s basketball proudly in their cream and crimson at Gainbridge Fieldhouse as it beat the University of Notre Dame 64-56. The Hoosiers offense in return gave the crowd a performance with much to be desired.
Indiana had a hard time getting things going on the offensive end as Notre Dame created a nine-point lead in the last seven minutes of the first half. It was exhausting to see the amount of turnovers Indiana made down the stretch. It turned the ball over nine times, leading to 8 points for Notre Dame.
No wonder Indiana is second in turnovers in the nation — it can never take care of the basketball.
While Indiana took a while to get going, senior guard Xavier Johnson also struggled and was not a threat from beyond the arc. Notre Dame seized the opportunity, leaving space for Johnson as if daring him to shoot. Johnson continued to struggle and went 2-for-9 from 3-point land.
Johnson has to learn how to become a true point guard and control the pace of the game. In order to lead the Hoosiers, he has to stay patient to receive the shots he wants without shooting himself out of the game.
While Johnson struggled, Indiana started to gain momentum by turning up the defensive intensity to force Notre Dame into a corner. It was hard-nosed pressure and forced Notre Dame out of its gameplan, throwing away the basketball in multiple possessions forcing shots up to end the first half.
Senior guard Parker Stewart was the one who kept the Hoosiers alive, contributing to a 7-0 run in the first half with his stellar shooting performance. Stewart was 3-for-4 from beyond the arc, scoring 12 points to help shut down the Fighting Irish.
Stewart stepped up when it was time, and he will continue to be a threat for Indiana moving forward if senior guard Miller Kopp has as bad a game as he had Saturday. Kopp went 2-7 in field goals and shot 1-3 from 3-point range.
It was disappointing for Kopp to have a performance like this, especially with how well he has been shooting for Indiana so far this season. Kopp ended with only five points in the win, but he will need to play better for Indiana to continue its success.
Bailing out the perimeter, the big-man duo of junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior forward Race Thompson was a dominant presence for Indiana.
Jackson-Davis destroyed Notre Dame on the boards, grabbing 12 rebounds with a 17-point performance to keep their season success going. Thompson was by far the most hardworking player on the floor, doing everything on both ends to keep his presence known.
Indiana has to know when it is time to engage their frontcourt to create open opportunities for the backcourt to create from. They can take all the 3-point shots they want — without the production of Jackson-Davis and Thompson, the Hoosiers will have a tough time playing against teams moving forward, including the rest of the Big Ten slate.
That is, if it can even hold onto the ball.