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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

COLUMN: Indiana men’s basketball needed a rebound game. It got one against Nebraska.


What does a basketball team fresh off a tough loss have in common with someone who just got dumped? 

Sometimes, they just need a good rebound game.  

Four days after an embarrassing defeat on the road at Rutgers, No. 14 Indiana men’s basketball bounced back with an emphatic 81-65 win against Nebraska. The Hoosiers looked dominant from start to finish behind a triple-double from star senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. 

[Related: No. 14 Indiana men’s basketball mends major wounds in bounce-back win over Nebraska]

It can be difficult to gauge how well a team is actually doing when it’s punching well below its weight class, but Indiana didn’t seem to win on pure talent alone. I mean, the stark talent advantage definitely helped, but the Hoosiers still put together an inspired game plan.  

Indiana spaced the floor and moved the ball well, getting a lot of production out of players who had dismal outings Saturday. Granted, that could describe about 80% of the Hoosiers, but it’s especially notable for junior guard Trey Galloway and graduate student forward Race Thompson. Neither of the starters scored a single point against Rutgers, but they combined for 29 against Nebraska.  

Even with standout freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino still unavailable due to a back injury, the Hoosiers had no trouble moving the ball or scoring all night. In addition to Galloway’s career-best 20, sophomore guard Tamar Bates put up 19 points behind five 3-pointers and graduate student forward Miller Kopp added 13 while showing improvement from midrange. 

[Related: ‘Bright moments’: Jackson-Davis elevates in record books with triple-double in 81-65 win]

Shots went up and fell nearly as gracefully as bowls atop the head of world-famous acrobat Red Panda, who graced Assembly Hall with her presence and her 7-foot-tall unicycle during the evening’s halftime performance. Ever the consummate professional, she did not err in flipping a single bowl from her foot to the rapidly growing stack on her head.  

I have seen Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall erupt with cheers at a Jackson-Davis dunk. I have seen it rain down jeers upon referees. But never have I seen it so unanimously joyful as it was for three minutes during halftime Wednesday night.  

Chants of “Panda” rang throughout the arena, interspersed with the occasional, “She’s so hot and talented,” or an incredulous, “This isn’t real.” 

I’m pretty sure some toxic societal pressure robbed me of my ability to cry earnestly at some point during my adolescence, but I nearly wept like a child when Red Panda kicked five bowls onto her head at once.  

Even though there was still a full half left to play when Panda gracefully dismounted from her comically oversized unicycle, the game was all but decided. Indiana never led by fewer than seven points.  

Obviously, it’s hard to say how much you can take from a win like this. Yes, Indiana needed to bounce back, but easy rebounds can mask deeper issues — graduate student guard Xavier Johnson’s seven turnovers, junior forward Jordan Geronimo’s continued scoring troubles, a fear of emotional intimacy — that can prove detrimental in the long run. 

For now though, it’s good vibes only in Bloomington. The Hoosiers are 8-1, we’re ostensibly just a few more Red Panda halftime shows away from world peace and Kopp even brought back his press conference TikTok bit — movie titles this time around, in case you were wondering. 

As for Nebraska, I hope the Cornhuskers aren’t too down on themselves. Whether it’s getting blown out in Assembly Hall as a 12-point underdog or accepting a suspiciously last-second promposal as a high school sophomore, eventually we all find ourselves boosting someone else’s self-esteem at the expense of our own.  

In other words, there’s no shame in being the rebound.

Follow reporters Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) and Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and columnist Bradley Hohulin (@BradleyHohulin) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season.
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