Indiana moved up over .500 in Big Ten play and secured their 12th overall win of the season, the same total they had for the entirety of the 2020-21 campaign, with a 73-60 win over Minnesota on Sunday.
The Golden Gophers made it interesting as they turned a 12-point early second half deficit into a one-point lead with 11:09 left in the game. But IU closed on a 25-11 run to secure their fifth win in the last six games.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers defeated the Golden Gophers with another edition of The Report Card.
IU (12-3, 3-2) will hit the road for a tough test in Iowa City on Thursday at 9 p.m. Eastern.
Minnesota’s game plan was clear from the outset — they wanted someone other than Trayce Jackson-Davis to beat them. That meant open looks all day for point guards Xavier Johnson and Rob Phinisee.
“Minnesota forced our hands in terms of shooting threes tonight, the way they sagged in, and they were just basically saying Trayce and Race are not going to beat us,” head coach Mike Woodson said. “When teams do that, our perimeter guys have got to be ready to step up and make shots.”
The Hoosiers tied their second largest three-point attempt volume of the season with 24, but after a couple straight poor-shooting days, this time IU made 37.5 percent from deep.
Indiana showed that they could be efficient without Jackson-Davis having a big scoring day, and balance was part of the equation. Five players scored in double-figures for the Hoosiers for the first time this season. The last time that happened was Feb. 17 of 2021, also against Minnesota.
The attention Jackson-Davis drew from Minnesota eventually opened things up for his frontcourt mate Race Thompson during crunch time.
“They went small, so I mean, if they’re going to play us small, we’ve got to spoon-feed the ball inside,” Woodson said of the emphasis to get Thompson the ball in the final ten minutes. “That’s what we did, and Race had a guard basically guarding him, and he also had (Jamison) Battles guarding him, too. So I was like, hey, let’s just get it inside and make them stop us.”
Woodson was happy with the way Jackson-Davis read the defense and didn’t try to force the issue.
“He made the correct passes coming out of the double teams, and guys benefitted from it by making shots,” Woodson said. “That’s how we’ve got to play.”
“It’s not no surprise; if I’m playing us, hell, I’m going to double him, too, and get it out of his hands, so that’s what teams are doing. Hey, he was patient. When he had it, he made the play, and when he didn’t have it, he sacrificed the ball, which we need.”
Indiana moved the ball well and had 17 assists on 27 field goals, and they tied a season low with six turnovers. The Hoosiers have averaged seven turnovers per game over their last three games, although it is worth noting none of those teams emphasize creating turnovers.
IU had 1.16 points per possession, its second best effort of the season against high major competition.
If you could only grade the second halves of the two halves, the grade would be an A, but Indiana’s starting five made things difficult.
Minnesota spread IU out the entire game with five on the perimeter looking for driving lanes.
The Golden Gophers led 19-14 in the first half before Indiana outscored them 25-10 to end the first segment. And then UM led 49-48 in the second half before IU closed the game on a 25-11 run. The difference in each half was a much improved defensive play on the ball, and that often entailed at least two of Rob Phinisee, Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway on the floor. Although they didn’t start, Phinisee and Galloway played the last 15 and 12 minutes of the game, respectively.
“There’s not a lot of teams that — when you start playing two small guards, I’ve got to utilize my two small guards who both can defend off the dribble,” Woodson said.
“Trey, he defends off the dribble. He got beat a few times tonight, but hell, a lot of us got beat tonight off the bounce. I thought that was a big part of their offense, and we didn’t control it that well. Then when we did, we were really good defensively.”
After Minnesota started the game shooting 6-for-10 from the field, the Indiana defense limited the Golden Gophers to 7-for-23 (30.4 percent) from the field the rest of the first half. They made just 1-of-10 to close out the game.
Indiana held Minnesota 10 points below their season scoring average of 70.4 points per game, and that follows a trend. The Hoosiers are allowing Big Ten opponents 58.2 points per game through five league games. The most a Big Ten opponent has scored on the Hoosiers this season is 64 points.
Minnesota scored .954 points per possession which wasn’t particularly impressive for IU given the Gophers’ pedestrian offense. The Golden Gophers only turned it over on 7.9 percent of their possessions — the second lowest percentage against IU this season.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Mike Woodson, Phinisee and Johnson post-game
- The point guards and defense rise to the occasion
- Extended highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B+) It may have been the quietest double-double of his career, but that just speaks to how much he can impact games and how accustomed we are to seeing it. Jackson-Davis played smart basketball on the offensive end and he rebounded aggressively. He went without a block, another byproduct of Minnesota’s 5-out approach.
Race Thompson (B) He was quiet for most of the game but scored six of Indiana’s points in connection with a 10-0 run that put the game away. Thompson didn’t have a turnover and he has just three in the last eight games. After Jamison Battle got off to a fast start, Thompson largely held him in check.
Miller Kopp (C+) Kopp makes the right reads, takes cares of the ball, and he’s in the right place defensively most of the time. He just isn’t having a big impact on games as teams know not to leave him open on the perimeter, and for the most part he is ineffective off the bounce. Kopp struggled to guard the perimeter at times.
Parker Stewart (B) He was an effective shooter when given room, and Stewart did score a couple times inside the arc as well. But the 5-out approach is largely directed at him and Kopp, and Stewart struggled to stay in front of his man.
Xavier Johnson (B+) Johnson will continue to get a higher shot volume than the fans want to see, but even days like this — 40 percent overall, 33 percent from three, are good enough to keep defenses more honest. Just as important was his defensive effort, 5-to-1 assists to turnovers, and ability to establish some tempo.
Jordan Geronimo (B) Geronimo continues to show a knack for timely plays. His tap out rebound set up a Kopp 3-pointer and IU never trailed again. It was another solid effort on the glass and on the defensive end.
Rob Phinisee (A-) Phinisee’s ability to knock down 3-pointers in the first half led to a cushion before the break, and his second half defense and facilitation of the offense helped seal the deal. The senior guard is stringing together valuable efforts.
Trey Galloway (B+) He wasn’t as near-flawless as a few nights ago, but Galloway has now firmly established himself as a game-changer, and a key sparkplug off the bench who gives IU a new look on both ends. His spin, lefty reverse layup at full speed was a thing of beauty. He’ll have to start making perimeter shots as teams start to back off to try to eliminate his drives.
Tamar Bates and Michael Durr appeared in the game briefly.
Anthony Leal and Logan Duncomb did not play.
Khristian Lander was not in uniform due to a lower leg injury.
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