The Indiana Hoosiers play the first eight games of the 2019 NCAA season in the friendly confines of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. If they want to gain momentum and go up the national rankings, they must take advantage of the opportunity.
This is precisely what Archie Miller’s crew has done so far. IU swept a three-game slate this past week behind the stellar play of its backcourt. More specifically, co-captains Al Durham and Devonte Green led the charge for the Cream and Crimson. True freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis has also been a pillar of strength down low.
The Troy Trojans paid a visit to Bloomington on November 16. Even without sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee, the Hoosiers cruised to a 100-62 win. It was the first time IU scored in triple digits this season.
Indiana led 8-7 after Trojans guard Charles Norman made two free throws. The home team went on a 10-0 run and never looked back. Jackson-Davis scored eight points in a four-minute span to give the Hoosiers a 21-10 lead. The Hoosiers’ lead ballooned to 58-32 at halftime.
The second half was never close. IU enjoyed its biggest lead at 84-43 after Jackson-Davis made a free throw with nine minutes left in the game.
Athletic forward Justin Smith led the 4-0 Hoosiers with 22 points. Jackson-Davis and Durham each had 17 points while sophomore forward Damezi Anderson had 14 points. Forward Zay Wiliams led the Trojans with 28 points off the bench.
Indiana Drops the Princeton Tigers
Indiana hosted the winless Princeton Tigers (0-3) on November 20 and graduate transfer Joey Brunk (who completed his three-year degree at Butler) was the difference maker in a 79-54 victory – Indiana’s fifth straight. Marking the Hoosiers’ best start since the 2013-14 season.
Brunk had 16 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and one block. He scored on an array of layups and post-up moves. As IU’s starting center, Brunk has averaged 9.2 points and 4.8 rebounds compared to when he suited up for the Butler Bulldogs, he averaged 5.1 points and 2.8 rebounds.
Green also scored 16 points on 5-of-8 shooting, including 2-of-3 from three-point range in his second game back from a hamstring injury which had sidelined him since March.
But this was not a cakewalk for the Hoosiers as the Tigers kept it close in the first half. Jaelin Llewellyn and Ryan Langborg scored 13 points and eight points in the first half and IU led by just four points at the break, 35-31.
Llewellyn’s two free throws trimmed the deficit to six at 43-37 with 14:49 remaining in the game. However, the Hoosiers went on a 10-0 run where Green and redshirt sophomore Race Thompson combined for eight of those points to put IU in front, 53-37. IU never looked back from that point to secure their fifth straight win both at home and to start the season.
How The Hoosiers Tames the LA Tech Bulldogs
The Hoosiers then took on the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs on November 25. This time, Jackson-Davis shone the brightest for the Cream and Crimson. The freshman scored a season-high 21 points, grabbed 11 rebounds, and blocked two shots in IU’s 88-75 win – its sixth straight victory for its best start since the 2012-13 season.
It seemed Indiana would coast to a blowout win over the Bulldogs in the first half. The Hoosiers got off to an early 9-2 lead. Durham scored five points during that spurt. IU padded its lead to 39-16 after Green scored seven points during a 12-0 run. The Hoosiers enjoyed their biggest lead of the half when Durham scored on a jumper to make it 43-21.
Even though IU led in double digits for the entire second half, it couldn’t annihilate the Bulldogs. Louisiana Tech managed to inch closer at 85-75 on Isaiah Crawford’s dunk with 58 seconds left. Unfortunately, it was too little, too late.
Durham and Green complemented Jackson-Davis nicely with 18 points and 16 points, respectively. Junior guard Amorie Archibald scored 24 points for the Bulldogs in a losing effort.
Backcourt Play Steps Up as the Hoosiers Odds Trend up Against South Dakota State
The surging Hoosiers will square off against the visiting South Dakota State Jackrabbits (5-3) on November 30.
The Hoosiers have been averaging 90.2 points per game. Durham (15.2 ppg), Jackson-Davis (15.0 ppg), Smith (13.7), and Green (12.7) lead the charge. On the other hand, the Jackrabbits average 76.8 points per game. Their leading scorers are Douglas Wilson (16.3 ppg), Brandon Key (12.4 ppg), and Matt Dentlinger (11.5 ppg).
IU is a better passing team (15.7 apg to 12.8 apg). The Hoosiers are also a better defensive team. They average 5.2 blocks and 7.0 steals per game. The Jackrabbits average 2.6 blocks and 5.6 steals per game. South Dakota State has the advantage in the rebounding department (42.4 rpg to 39.8 rpg).
Since IU has the edge in most of the statistical categories, expect oddsmakers to place Hoosiers odds, Hoosiers moneyline, and the Hoosiers over/under in its favor. If Indiana doesn’t let up for a full 40 minutes, it should win its seventh consecutive game.