ALBANY, NY – Friday night turned into Saturday morning before Indiana scored its ticket to the Round of 16 here in upstate New York thanks to a 71-60 win against Kent State. Trayce Jackson-Davis’ 24 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and five assists led the way.
Here are three reasons why the seed #4 UI has changed:
Shop at bully ball
Big Ten teams have exploited the Hoosiers’ (23-11) propensity to play two absolute big men at times this season, whether it be Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, or some combination of Malik Reneau and Jordan Geronimo off the bench.
Kent State is not in the Big Ten.
The Golden Flashes, number 13, tried creative doubles against Jackson-Davis, which was not surprising given their quality. But the lack of strong secondary defenders left Thompson to celebrate in the first half. He scored 13 in the first 20 minutes of Friday night, standing out in the space allotted to him by the Jackson-Davis gravitational pull.
Informant:Race Thompson has sacrificed so much for UI. He took some back in Kent State’s win.
Kent State (28-7) couldn’t help but adjust, which opened things up for Indiana’s All-American forward. Some tough shots and four free throws gave him a 10 at halftime. As usual, Jackson-Davis added seven rebounds, four assists and three blocks for the issue.
Despite some backcourt foul trouble, the Hoosiers held Sincere Carry and Malique Jacobs to a combined 5-of-17 in the first half. Kent State grabbed a lot of offensive rebounds, but IU limited turnovers against a team known for forcing them. The highest ranked team had good value for their 35-27 halftime lead.
TJD’s legacy?‘He really wants to be a player who brings back Indiana basketball.’
Race banner night
This hasn’t always been the easiest season for Thompson.
Indiana’s sixth-year forward has dealt with multiple injuries. He lived in the ever-growing shadow of Jackson-Davis, Thompson’s role diminishing as Jackson-Davis became the Hoosiers’ MVP.
No one got louder on Friday night than the Minneapolis native. He finished strong on the edge. He struggled for rebounds against a scrappy rebounding team. He took advantage of the opportunities presented to him by Kent State’s insistence that Jackson-Davis would not win the game.
When he returned for his sixth year in college, this must have been the type of game that Thompson described as the main reason. He was excellent on Friday (and Saturday, considering when the game ended). He finished with a team-high 20 points along with nine rebounds.
Kent State found a handful of good punches in the second half. After Indiana extended the lead to double digits, well-timed 3s and a few more turnovers than the Hoosiers put up in the first half allowed the Golden Flashes to get their gear and get back in the game.
Every time, IU had an answer. Almost every time, the answer was the number 23.
Kent State threw everything they could think of at Jackson-Davis, trying to drive the Hoosiers’ All-American out of the game. This opened windows for teammates, several other Indiana players scoring in double figures against a defense that was Kent State’s calling card.
But eventually, the Golden Flashes ran out of ideas. Jackson-Davis turned on and dashed Kent State’s dashed hopes with a series of impressive goalpost moves, deft transition baskets and loud dunks. Kent State managed to keep the door open, if only for much of the second half.
When the time came, it was the best player on the court – perhaps the best player left in the tournament – who sealed the deal, sending the Hoosiers through to the Round of 16.
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.
Indiana 71, Kent St. 60
KENT ST. (28-7): Davis 4-9 0-0 10, Thomas 2-10 1-1 6, Hornbeak 0-2 0-0 0, Carry 5-18 4-4 15, Jacobs 3-11 1-3 8, Sullinger 3-9 0-0 8, Payton 5-10 0-0 10, Gillespie 0-0 2-2 2, Odusipe 0-0 1-2 1, Rollins 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-69 9-12 60.
INDIANA (23-11): Jackson-Davis 10-17 4-5 24, Kopp 4-9 2-3 13, Thompson 8-11 2-3 20, Galloway 1-3 0-0 2, Hood-Schifino 4-11 0-0 8, Bates 0-6 0-0 0, Reneau 2-4 0-0 4, Geronimo 0-1 0-0 0, Banks 0-0 0-0 0, Leal 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 29- 62 8 -11 71.
Halftime – Indiana 35-27. 3-point goals_Kent St. 7-21 (Davis 2-4, Sullinger 2-4, Jacobs 1-2, Thomas 1-5, Carry 1-6), Indiana 5-15 (Kopp 3-6, Thompson 2-3, Galloway 0-1, Hood-Schifino 0-2, Bates 0-3). Rebounds_Kent St. 36 (Jacobs 9), Indiana 39 (Jackson-Davis 11). Assists_Kent St. 11 (Jacobs 7), Indiana 14 (Jackson-Davis 5). Total Fouls_Kent St. 12, Indiana 13.
This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IU Basketball vs. Kent State: Trayce Jackson-Davis, star of Race Thompson