Indiana men’s basketball suffered its first loss of the season, a 112-110 double-overtime shootout against Syracuse University, Tuesday at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse, New York. After trailing by 16 points at the end of the first half, Indiana fought back and forced overtime thanks to an offensive rebound and two made free throws by junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Jackson-Davis led the way for the Hoosiers, scoring 31 points and pulling down 16 rebounds, six of which were on the offensive glass. He became the first Hoosier since Eric Gordon to score 30 points in back-to-back games. Senior forward Miller Kopp scored a career-high 28 points and senior guard Parker Stewart finished with 20 points, including 6-12 shooting from 3-point range.
While it scored its most points of the season, Indiana’s pitfall was turning the ball over. Syracuse capitalized on its 25 turnovers by scoring 33 points when Indiana gave the ball up. Head coach Mike Woodson said Syracuse’s two-three zone affected them in the first half.
“I thought we played so out of character in the first half, I thought we were scared,” Woodson said in the postgame press conference. “We just couldn’t figure it out in the first half, I thought we made adjustments in the second half and things were smooth and we ended up getting back in the game and making a game out of it.”
Syracuse was led by head coach Jim Boeheim’s sons, senior guard Buddy and graduate student forward Jimmy, who had 27 and 26 points, respectively. All five Syracuse starters came into the game averaging double-digit points and reached that mark against Indiana. Syracuse’s bench scored just 6 points compared to 10 from Indiana’s second unit.
After the game, Woodson said the Hoosiers would need more production out of their bench as they move into Big Ten play. However, Jackson-Davis said younger players, like sophomore guard Khristian Lander and freshman guard Tamar Bates, playing down the stretch in a hostile environment would be good for the team later in the season.
“It’s gonna be critical as we move into the Big Ten in terms of sustaining our play at a high level,” Woodson said. “We gotta have our bench man.”
Stewart came out of the halftime break and outscored Syracuse by himself in the first four minutes of the second half 9-3. When Indiana took its first lead of the game with 10:04 left, it had outscored Syracuse 30-11 in the second half.
“It’s just the fighting aspect, everyone in there is a fighter and we’re not going to go down unless we’re swinging,” Jackson-Davis said.
Jackson-Davis said the key to Indiana’s second-half comeback was listening to Woodson advice and being patient against Syracuse’s zone, but turnovers still plagued the team as it gave the ball up 10 times in the second half.
Woodson said taking care of the ball was a point of emphasis Tuesday and the team wasn’t able to do it, but he was happy with the team’s fight while facing a large deficit and said it would learn from the loss.
“I thought we had our chances to win and I couldn’t get them over the hump tonight,” Woodson said.
The Hoosiers avoided losing Jackson-Davis when he returned to the game after going down with an injury late in the second half. He had to be helped to the bench after hitting knees with an Orange player, but was able to come back in shortly after and help force overtime.
“That’s a big sense of relief, it wasn’t nothing real serious,” Woodson said. “He just had to regroup and then he came back, so that was a real great sign for us.”
Indiana moved to 6-1 this season with the loss, its first with Woodson as head coach. The team will return to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to open Big Ten play at noon Saturday against Nebraska.
“Everyone in that locker room wanted to win this game,” he said. “I know it hurts and it sucks but we can’t get too high and can’t get too low.”