Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Indiana’s defensive frenzy continues in 68-55 win over Maryland

<p>Senior forward Race Thompson makes a jump-shot Nov. 21, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana will play Illinois at 11 a.m. Feb. 5 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. </p>

Senior forward Race Thompson makes a jump-shot Nov. 21, 2021, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana will play Illinois at 11 a.m. Feb. 5 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

There is nothing like beating a team senselessly on their home floor. Indiana’s win over Maryland will likely leave Hoosier fans feeling satisfied, with Indiana having its way against Maryland to grab a second consecutive conference win. 

Maryland began the game with complete focus, creating a 6-0 run to slow Indiana down early. The presence of Maryland’s shooting and senior guard Eric Ayala put Maryland into an early rhythm, capitalizing on its opportunity to attack the sagging defense of Indiana.  

This season, Indiana men’s basketball has been known as the team to have slow and sluggish energy starting basketball games. With Indiana failing from 3-point range, it seemed like the team struggled to find momentum until Indiana started using inside scoring to its advantage for opportunities to build an offensive run. 

It was no surprise the big man duo of junior forward Tryace Jackson-Davis and senior forward Race Thompson had a well-rounded performance. Thompson led Indiana with 18 points and 12 rebounds, and Jackson-Davis had his way in dropping 17 points and nine rebounds, showing his All-American qualities. 

Both Jackson-Davis and Thompson were each 7 for 12 from the field, with Thompson stretching out the offense and being two for two from 3-point land. The production of these big men is what Indiana needs to get itself back into the March Madness conversation. 

If the continuous streaky shooting of Indiana continues, it will have to rely on the inside game, requiring Jackson-Davis and Thompson to perform at a high level every game. This will depend on who can stand up to become the “next man up” off the bench for head coach Mike Woodson to lead Indiana into the postseason. 

Indiana’s defense did not disappoint, picking up where it left off against Penn State and not allowing any room for Maryland to breath offensively. Maryland shot 29% from the field, having a hard time seeing shots fall to keep up with Indiana. 

The defense continued to smell blood, forcing 13 Maryland turnovers from quick jump shots and lazy transitions for Indiana to build a lead upon. 

Senior guard Xavier Johnson had a consistent game with eight points, while also tying his season high for most assists in a game with nine. Johnson also only turned the ball over twice against Maryland, which is something to be happy about considering how much he turned the ball over earlier this season. 

There’s nothing like seeing a point guard continuously making the right adjustments to lead their team to win basketball games. Johnson’s efficiency these last four games has been outstanding, but Johnson will need to improve his shooting to become a greater threat for Indiana.

With nine games left in the regular season, Indiana will have time to make any and all necessary adjustments to help further their chances of making the tournament. This will be a tough five-game stretch for Indiana, and it will all come down to the tempo of Indiana’s pace when starting basketball games.

The production will also have to come from the bench for Indiana to remain dominant, because teams will eventually figure out how to stop Jackson-Davis and Thompson. It will be important for bench players to remain ready, especially with senior guard Rob Phinisee being questionable for the next few games. 

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