The frontcourt for the Hoosiers was too tall, too big, too athletic, and too dominant for the undersized Merrimack Warriors in Indiana’s 81-49 win.
When the game was all said and done, the Hoosiers out-rebounded Merrimack 54-16. Out of those rebounds, 18 of them were on the offensive end and led to 21 total second-chance points. The Warriors, on the other hand, only had four total offensive rebounds that resulted in two second-chance points. It was a total mismatch down low.
“We were a bigger team versus this team, so I’d like to think that we should out-rebound this team,” said head coach Mike Woodson after the game.
“We were pounding the ball inside, trying to get it inside, and take advantage of our length and height. And, it worked out in our favor, and some of the shots we did miss we were able to go back and get them, and put it back in.”
The Warriors opened up the game in a 2-3 zone in an attempt to protect the paint. However, the game plan did not work. The Hoosiers, after facing zone defenses in their last 3-out-of-4 games, were well prepared to face another one. They set up in a high-low offense to break the zone and allowed their big men to go to work.
The frontcourt had all its post players score and grab a rebound– including freshman Logan Duncomb, who scored his first points as a Hoosier on an elbow jumper, and Michael Durr, who had a season-high five points.
After being held to single-digit points against Wisconsin with nine, Trayce Jackson-Davis paced the scoring with 16 points on 5-of-10 shooting. The preseason All-American was able to get some easy finishes and dunks around the rim and almost pulled out an around-the-back euro-step move and slam, however, he was fouled on the play. He would convert both free throws and went 6-of-6 from the stripe.
Along with Jackson-Davis, Thompson resumed his normal secondary scoring role. The Redshirt senior added 14 points, for his fourth straight double-digit output, and 7 rebounds on a near double-double effort. Thompson also shot a perfect 6-for-6 from the field.
“With their zone, the holes were there tonight in the zone,” Woodson said. “So if we got the ball into them, they were basically one-on-one with their defenders. So I just kept telling them, hey, why kick it out, just go try to score the basketball. And they did that. They made plays at the rim.
“And we got to continue that. If a team is going to play us zone and give us an opportunity to catch it within the zone, then we’ve got to take advantage of it.”
The most surprising scoring output of the game? Jordan Geronimo. The Newark, NJ native had career-highs with 13 points including two jump shots, and 13 rebounds for the first double-double of his career. Geronimo was a difference-maker, especially on the glass. He had five offensive rebounds including one off a free-throw where Geronimo quickly spun around his man to grab the ball before getting fouled on the put-back. Five of his 13 points were from second-chance attempts.
“It’s really important to me because rebounding is one of those things that it’s necessary to win games. If we rebound the ball, you get extra possessions, and extra possessions means more points,” said Geronimo.
“I feel like all these little things matter. So rebounding is something that I’m gifted in, and God gave me this body to get rebounds. You know what I mean? So I’m going to use it.”
For the Hoosiers, tonight was a tune-up game that they needed. After blowing a 17-point halftime lead on Wednesday, Indiana was able to sustain their play for most of the game. Now, they will look to carry the momentum against a Notre Dame team that recently knocked off the No. 10 team in the country on Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats.
“Definitely helps to have a bounce-back game. Wednesday was definitely a tough loss, and we had time to reflect on it and find ways to get better,” Race Thompson said.
“So, I mean, games like today, just a little confidence boost, make you feel a little better coming to practice for six days before we play Notre Dame. Just feeling better about ourselves. I think it helps a lot. “
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