After a week off, Indiana met its match on Saturday afternoon against first place Illinois. The Hoosiers were outplayed on both ends of their home court in Bloomington.
IU led by as much as eight in the first half after a Parker Stewart three gave them a 19-11 edge with 11:28 left in the first half. From there Illinois outscored Indiana 63-38, including a 40-21 dismantling of the Hoosiers in the second half.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers lost with another edition of The Report Card.
IU (16-6, 7-5) will next travel to Northwestern for a 9 p.m. Eastern tip on Tuesday evening in Evanston, Ill.
Indiana can win if it is hitting threes even if Trayce Jackson-Davis has a quiet game. And the opposite holds true too. But the combination of the Hoosiers shooting 3-of-13 from three and Jackson-Davis scoring just six points was a recipe for disaster.
Jackson-Davis has made just 12-of-40 shots (30 percent) over his last three games facing Illinois big man Kofi Cockburn. He’s a career 55.6 percent shooter, so the impact of Cockburn’s athletic 7-foot and 285 pound frame on the IU big man is profound.
It was more than just Jackson-Davis struggling. Because of Cockburn’s ability to slow him one-on-one, Illinois didn’t have to use a double team, meaning they could effectively guard the IU star without giving anything else away.
IU tried to pull Cockburn out of the paint with ball screens, but he didn’t follow. Jackson-Davis’ best scoring option was from the perimeter, but he didn’t look for his shot.
“He’s just not comfortable doing it. I mean, he shoots some in practice, but he’s — you know, we’re not asking him to shoot threes,” IU coach Mike Woodson said after the game. “I think he can make the 10, to 16, 17-foot shot. But he just won’t shoot them. I got to keep working with him. That’s on me.”
Illinois stuck to IU’s shooters, and Cockburn didn’t leave the paint, leaving Xavier Johnson to try to create on his own. And that left Woodson feeling like IU’s point guard wasn’t effectively running the offense.
“I don’t think we got into anything,” Woodson said. “And I may have mentioned that to X when I came in the (locker room) — I don’t think — he just never got us in everything.”
Indiana made just 8-of-27 shots (29.6 percent) in the second half and committed eight turnovers. They scored just 21 points after the break and just .677 points per possession.
While Indiana get some run-outs on the offensive end in the first half off turnovers and missed shots, Illinois’ dominant second half on the offensive end also limited the Hoosiers ability to score.
“I thought our offense allowed our defense to be great simply because we kept them out of transition,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said of the second half.
Overall for the game, Indiana’s .871 points per possession and 38.4 effective field goal percentage were both season lows.
On the positive side, IU made 14-of-18 free throws, although they only earned four attempts in the second half.
Indiana found itself in the same predicament everyone faces against Illinois. Double Cockburn and leave shooters open, or take your chances one-on-one.
Indiana tried a little of both, and neither went particularly well.
“Kofi attracts a lot of attention,” Underwood said. “You’ve got to decide whether you’re going to double him. You’ve got to decide if you’re going to play him one-on-one. His game has grown so much. Two years ago he was catching and had to lay it in and had to have an angle. Now he doesn’t have to have any of that.”
Cockburn’s line — 17 points and eight rebounds on 6-of-13 shooting — is something IU likely would have taken going in. But it came at the expense of a 10-of-23 three-point shooting effort by Illinois as IU scrambled to recover all day.
“The three-point shot got away from us again,” Woodson said. “I thought the two big threes that Jacob (Grandison) hit was really the — the turning point in the — in the down spiral of our ball club after he made two threes. Because we never really recovered from it.”
Woodson was right. Grandison’s threes started a 32-11 Illinois run to close out the game over the final 12:43. Interestingly, Woodson had not subbed out his starters at that point. Could fatigue have played a role? IU was actually up 46-42 to that point. But the Illini’s potent inside-out threat took over, as they hit six of their threes over that closing stretch, and Cockburn scored 10 of his 17.
The Hoosiers allowed 26 Illinois free throw attempts, and their 54.2 percent free throw rate allowed was the most against any high major opponent all season.
For the game IU gave up 1.13 points per possession, fourth most on the season, and they’ve lost all four of those games.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson and Thompson post-game
- Indiana’s normally dominant frontcourt unable to produce against Illinois
- Extended highlights
Trayce Jackson-Davis (D-) Jackson-Davis was out of sorts the entire game, from early fouls, to getting rattled by Cockburn’s presence. He had no blocks and three turnovers to compound the disappointing effort.
Race Thompson (C-) Thompson’s run of good 3-point shooting ended abruptly, and he struggled to score over smaller players at times. He lost Grandison on both of his game-changing threes. But Thompson played hard and impacted the game positively in many ways including his late first half defense on Cockburn.
Miller Kopp (D) He continues to start although he really isn’t playing starters minutes. The reason he isn’t centers on perimeter defense shortcomings, and a limited offensive arsenal that yielded no field goal attempts in this one.
Parker Stewart (C-) Stewart had a good first half scoring the ball, but Illinois found him and stuck to him better in the second half, limiting his looks. He missed two big second half threes that could have expanded an IU lead and slowed an Illinois run. The matchups generally weren’t good for him on the defensive end against quicker guards.
Xavier Johnson (C) With the way Illinois defends, this was a game on paper Johnson was going to have to win for IU. He certainly had his moments but he generally isn’t enough of a volume scorer to take over a game like his counterpart Trent Frazier did.
Jordan Geronimo (C-) Geronimo had a good rim run and a steal. But he had a costly second half turnover during Illinois’ run and seemed to get lost in some ball screen coverages.
Trey Galloway (C-) Galloway was unable to to have game-changing impact on the defensive end against Illinois’ veteran guards, and Cockburn’s constant paint presence took his dribble drive game away.
Tamar Bates (C-) Bates had good energy but the shots weren’t falling and he had his share of second half defensive challenges.
Khristian Lander (D) Lander was unable to build on a glimmer of hope from last weekend. He had two turnovers in eight minutes, and was not effective on the defensive end.
Michael Durr (C-) Durr had some nice moments defending Cockburn and also had a couple rebounds, but he was also a step slow several times which led to five fouls in 12 minutes and a lot of Illinois free throws.
Anthony Leal, and Logan Duncomb did not play . Rob Phinisee was out with a foot injury.
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