Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Indiana men’s basketball’s defense defeats Northern Kentucky in blowout win

<p>Junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis blocks a shot from the opposing team Dec. 22, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana defeated Northern Kentucky University 79-61.</p>

Junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis blocks a shot from the opposing team Dec. 22, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana defeated Northern Kentucky University 79-61.

Hoosier fans received a wonderful holiday gift Wednesday night: a blowout win from Indiana men’s basketball at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

Head coach Mike Woodson made a noticeable change to the starting lineup going into this game, starting sophomore guard Anthony Leal. It was shocking to see Woodson not play senior guard Parker Stewart in the first half, which is his first time coming off the bench this season. 

The newly arranged lineup played valuable minutes creating open opportunities, shooting 58% from the field, having fluid ball movement and inside touches for high percentage baskets. They played smart and shared the ball effectively which is the reason for Indiana’s endless run. 

The main attraction of Indiana’s run was the hard-nosed defensive pressure placed on Northern Kentucky’s dreadful scoring. Indiana forced a 13 minute and 52 second field goal drought in the first half, proving to have the best defense in the conference. 

It was exhausting to see Northern Kentucky handle their possessions down the stretch, being 3-of-26 and shooting 12% from the field. The way Northern Kentucky played, Indiana should adjust their schedule to where they can compete against teams who will actually compete. 

Indiana’s defense was fun to watch, beating everyone to the spots and forcing Northern Kentucky to struggle offensively the entire game. Northern Kentucky’s scoring drought gave Indiana the momentum needed to stretch a 28 point lead in the second half. 

The Indiana bench kept putting the pedal to the medal with senior guard Rob Phinisee coming out of his shell producing great minutes off the bench for Indiana. Phinisee was a major piece for Indiana finishing with 10 points in 18 minutes, scoring seven in the first half to pull away Northern Kentucky. 

The big man duo of junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior forward Race Thompson was without a doubt the most dominant. Jackson-Davis and Thompson combined for 35 points and four blocks to finish the game. 

It is always amazing to see this duo play every game, bullying every opponent to show why they are the best big men in the conference. Without the production of Jackson-Davis and Thompson, Indiana will have a hard time finding scoring opportunities against highly competitive teams. 

This Indiana men’s team is steadily improving every single game this season, despite the lack of making shots and taking care of the ball when most needed. The team continues to let opponents feel like they have a chance to come back while closing out games. 

To become a threat in their conference, Indiana will have to learn how to close out games and remain disciplined on the defensive end without fouling. 

The true test will begin to see if Indiana can continue to keep the momentum going into their next upcoming games. Indiana’s growth will continue to be tested for the remainder of the season, and it will be exciting to see how this team will respond to the pressure moving forward. 

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