Just 48 hours after a gritty road win, No. 12 Indiana men’s basketball came out slow against Miami University on Sunday.
In front of a friendly crowd at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Indiana turned out a hard-nosed performance and used a late first half run to pull away for an 86-56 victory.
“It was a great job on our part handling the short days to get prepared for this game,” head coach Mike Woodson said after the game. “The way the schedule is set up is set up like playing in the (NCAA) Tournament, which I think is good for us.”
The Hoosiers, who downed their toughest competition of the season so far Friday against Xavier University, felt the effects of the turnaround early Sunday. Both teams started slow, making four of their first 17 shots. Nine minutes in, the Hoosiers were trailing 12-11.
However, they pulled away the rest of the half, ending it on an 11-0 run to go up 17. The run began with sophomore guard Tamar Bates, who subbed in shortly before hitting a 3-pointer that jump-started the Hoosiers. Bates finished the night with 7 points.
“I always want to bring a spark off the bench,” Bates said. “No matter how the game is going, I want to pick up the pace or do what I can to affect the game with my particular skillset.”
Senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis's first half performance was vital for Indiana, keeping it afloat early before helping it escape early danger from Miami.
Jackson-Davis continued to dominate the competition, recording a double-double before the first half ended and finishing with 17 points and 16 rebounds in 25 minutes. It was his first double-double of the season, but the preseason All-American is already averaging 21 points on 76% shooting.
Led by Jackson-Davis, Indiana’s frontcourt has produced an abundance of scoring. Freshman forward Malik Reneau, who added 10 points Sunday, is the team’s second leading scorer behind Jackson-Davis. Behind the bigs, Indiana scored 42 points in the paint.
Jackson-Davis's stature has brought increased pressure from teams looking to shut him down this season, and he’s often been double-teamed by defenses. While in years past Jackson-Davis has been the focal point of Indiana’s offense, he’s been adjusting to additional scoring options this season.
“He’s starting to figure it out and get the ball into the right areas where we can play offense,” Woodson said. “It comes out when he’s doubled, and sometimes, he’s able to beat the double-team with his offensive play. He’s playing pretty good right now for us, and we’ve got to keep him playing at a high level.”
Indiana, which led by as much as 34, had plenty of time in the second half to get looks from some of its second- and third-team players. Three players — Jackson-Davis, Bates and senior guard Xavier Johnson — led the way for Indiana with just 25 minutes, meaning it spread out playing time among its roster.
Bates, Reneau and junior forward Jordan Geronimo each recorded season-highs in minutes coming off the bench, playing 25, 21 and 18, respectively. Those three responded to the playing time by leading the second unit in scoring, combining for 23 of Indiana’s 34 bench points.
Freshman guard CJ Gunn played 18 minutes in place of junior guard Trey Galloway, who missed the game for precautionary reasons after twisting his knee against Xavier. Gunn responded with 5 points and stifling defense; he was plus-22 on the afternoon with the third-best plus/minus on the team.
“We’ve got enough bodies on this team,” Woodson said. “My theme is always going to be ‘next man up’ if someone gets hurt. When you’re called upon, be ready to play.”
Indiana’s next opportunity comes when the University of Arkansas at Little Rock comes to Bloomington. The Hoosiers will return to their home court and will top off against the Trojans at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
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