You take them any way you can get them in February. Indiana survived a home court scare on Saturday, earned its third straight win over Illinois, and clinched at least a .500 record in the Big Ten for the first time since 2018.
It was a struggle throughout. After IU led 17-12 early, Illinois surged out to 34-26 first half advantage. The Illini took multiple nine-point second half leads, and Indiana never led after the break until a pair of Jalen Hood-Schifino free throws with :30 seconds left.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers win 71-68 with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (19-8, 10-6) will face Michigan State in East Lansing on Tuesday evening at 9 p.m. ET.
With just over 12 minutes left, IU had just 39 points and seemed to be going nowhere fast. Their offense was struggling to decipher multiple looks from Illinois, and that pushed the Hoosiers late into the shot clock and caused several turnovers.
But IU turned it over just three times in the last 15 minutes, and they scored 32 points in the last 12 minutes. In that span the Hoosiers made multiple threes off offensive rebounds, and scored multiple times in transition. Basically, they had to get Illinois out of their half court defense to score, although the Hoosiers also used some high-low actions involving Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson to produce late points as well.
Illinois head coach Brad Underwood felt like his team had done a respectable job of slowing Jackson-Davis in the half court sets, but the national player of the year candidate comes at you in so many ways.
“I thought we did a great job on Trayce (Jackson-Davis) and he’s got 26 and 12,” Underwood said. “I know what Mike’s (Woodson) feeling when you’ve got one of the best players in the country, if not the best.
“We threw the kitchen sink at him. We came from different angles, tried to get in gaps.
“We felt like we could help off Race a little bit, we could come from different angles. They (Indiana) did a nice job. Instead of Miller (Kopp) opposite, they put him strong side corner, they entered from the top a little bit.”
Indiana scored 18 points on second-chance opportunities, and they got 11 more in transition. But they had 14 turnovers and got just 13 free throw attempts and made only eight.
The Hoosiers scored 1.02 points per possession. They are 17-4 when they get over one per game.
It looked like Matthew Mayer might go for 40 at one point, but for the second straight game, Indiana found defensive answers in the second half.
After Illinois made 6-of-12 from beyond the arc in the first half and scored 1.27 points per possession, IU clamped down after the break. The Fighting Illini were 0-of-8 from three in the second half, shot just 34.9 percent, and committed just .83 points per possession. Mayer scored 16 in the first half including 4-of-7 from three, but he made just 1-of-7 from the field in the second.
“The ball was just floating around the perimeter easily,” Woodson said of the first half struggles. “Guys were just freelancing, beating us off the drive. It wasn’t pretty basketball the first half I didn’t think. I thought the second half, especially as the game started to get tighter, our defense started to pick up and eliminated a lot of the threes and the good looks that they had the first half.”
Illinois also had 10 offensive rebounds in the first half and got 11 points off them. But they got just two offensive rebounds and no second chance points after the break.
“I think the first half we were getting beat on the boards,” Woodson said. “They won all the 50/50 balls. We were just moving in slow motion, I thought. It was heated in the locker room at halftime a little bit.”
In the end, Indiana won the rebounding battle over a good rebounding team, 41-37. Illinois had just nine assists on 24 makes against 11 turnovers. The shot just 39.3 percent for the game.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Jalen Hood-Schifino came through when it mattered against Illinois
- Trayce Jackson-Davis is going through senior night, doesn’t plan to return next season
- Watch: Woodson, Kopp and Jackson-Davis discuss win over Illinois
- IU basketball: Indiana 71 Illinois 68 — Three keys | Highlights | Final stats
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B+) He struggled with turnovers and free throws, but Jackson-Davis continues to be the best player on the court in every game he plays. He scored on put backs, in transition, and through the offense. And once again Jackson-Davis protected the rim with five blocks to go with three steals. He only had two assists for the game, but they came in the last four minutes, along with one of the steals.
Race Thompson (B) Thompson did a good job finding the openings playing off of all the attention on Jackson-Davis, and his rebounding production was improved as his conditioning and comfort with his knee improves. He’s headed in the right direction at the right time.
Miller Kopp (B+) In addition to four made threes on five attempts, Kopp had a massive steal in the final minute with the game tied. He also had no turnovers in 31 minutes. But Kopp did struggle on the defensive end in the first half, especially with keeping track of Matthew Mayer.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (B) It would be reasonable to say he had poor game, for his standards anyway, until the final minute. And then immediately after a turnover that led to a breakaway dunk, he made a jump shot, made two free throws, made what seemed to be a clean block, and then broke the full court press to clinch the game. He was also an effective rebounder throughout the game.
Trey Galloway (C+) Don’t underestimate what Galloway did on the defensive end, and as a facilitator with no turnovers, but Indiana continues to need more offensive production from the two spot.
Tamar Bates (D) He hasn’t made more than one shot from the field in a game in his last six appearances. That’s a problem for someone who is coming into the game primarily to score.
Malik Reneau (B) Reneau was very physical and aggressive in the second half, and that led to three rebounds, a block and a steal — but also three fouls. Overall he was IU’s best player off the bench.
Jordan Geronimo and Kaleb Banks appeared in the game briefly.
In total, Indiana had 11 scholarship players healthy and available. Logan Duncomb was out after having sinus surgery, and Xavier Johnson (foot) remains unavailable.
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