BLOOMINGTON – Devonte Green had 27 points on seven 3-pointers and Trayce Jackson-Davis added 17 points and nine rebounds to overcome Luka Garza's 38 points for No. 21 Iowa and lead the Hoosiers to a 89-77 win tonight at Assembly Hall, snapping a four-game Indiana losing streak.
- Indiana has some fight left: The Hoosiers needed this game in the worst way. After a halting first few minutes, they showed the fight necessary to overwhelm the visitors and build a lead that reached as many as 17 in the first half. If Garza had not been around to score nearly every time he touched the ball, the Hoosiers would have run Iowa out of the gym. Obviously Green was a huge factor in taking the lead, but I was most impressed by Indiana's defense and want-to on the glass. The defense was solid, dealing with Garza as best it could and making everything difficult for him, while getting tip after tip on perimeter passes, leading to easy baskets off of turnovers. On the boards, the Hoosiers battled for every loose ball and came up with some that they had no business getting. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson were particularly strong under the glass, pushing Iowa around and helping the Hoosiers grab 15 offensive rebounds. After three straight lackluster games in the energy department, I was unsure if this Indiana team was capable of rising to the challenge, but it did so tonight and because it did so, its NCAA Tournament hopes are alive.
- Good Devonte makes an appearance: Of course, it would have been tough for Indiana to win this game, regardless of energy, without the shooting display Green put on in the first half. His brother, Los Angeles Lakers guard Danny Green, was in attendance and maybe that played a factor, but whatever it was Green came out red-hot, knocking down his first four 3s, none of them particularly open looks, without so much as touching the rim. It was a reminder, for those who had forgotten in the two months since he played similarly against Florida State in December, that he can completely take over a game when he's hot. I thought it would happen more often this season, but if Indiana makes the NCAA Tournament it will be able to point to the two (or more if it happens again between now and the Big Ten Tournament) wins that don't happen with Green's heroics. That doesn't quite make up for the numerous games this season that he's hurt Indiana with bad shots in big moments, but it certainly helps.
- Indiana got back to doing what it does best: Indiana had a simple formula for success earlier in the season: it owned the glass and got to the free throw line so many times that any offensive limitations were masked. That formula had deserted the Hoosiers recently, but it re-appeared tonight. Indiana used its early 3-point barrage from Green and others to open up the middle and in the second half it went down low to Jackson-Davis, Thompson and De'Ron Davis again and again. They all tried to attack the rim and although there were plenty of questionable no-calls from Big Ten referees used to letting physical defense rule the day, Indiana also drew more than its share of fouls, shooting 32 free throws. It cost itself opportunities to push its lead higher by making only 22 of those, but it was a good sign nonetheless. As I wrote above, I was impressed with Indiana's want-to on the boards, especially Thompson and Jackson-Davis, who combined for 13 rebounds. The Hoosiers won the rebounding battle 39-28 overall and earned every one because Iowa didn't let anything go easily.
Player of the Game: Luka Garza
As good as Green was, Garza was the best player on the floor tonight, even in defeat. The 6-foot-11 Big Ten Player of the Year contender dominated all night, conspicuously outplaying Joey Brunk and keeping Iowa in the game almost single-handledly. He went 14 for 22 from the field and added eight rebounds and four blocks to his total. It was his fifth 30-point performance of the season.
Facts and Figures
Indiana is 4-3 against ranked opponents this season and had lost three in a row against such teams. ... Indiana had a 25-18 advantage in points off turnovers. ... The Hoosiers went 11 for 21 from beyond the arc, setting a new season-high for 3-pointers. ... The game was a contrast in styles, with Iowa making the most field goals of any team in Big Ten play coming in and Indiana, playing at a slower pace, giving up the fewest. ... Indiana's Jerome Hunter picked up a technical foul in the second half for putting a finger in an Iowa player's face after the whistle. Iowa coach Fran McCaffery also got a technical foul for leaving the coach's box after being warned. ... Thompson had a season-high 10 points, only the second time he's scored in double figures this season, four rebounds, a career-high four steals and two blocks. ... Among those joining Danny Green in attendance was former Bishop Luers star and high-scoring Indiana guard James Blackmon Jr. Former All-Big Ten Hoosier forward Juwan Morgan, who has played with the Utah Jazz organization this season, was at the game, along with NBA champion OG Anunoby of the Toronto Raptors.
The Hoosiers are back in action Sunday, when they travel to Ann Arbor, Michigan, to take on the Wolverines (15-9, 6-7 Big Ten). The game will tip off at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on CBS as the national game of the week. The Wolverines have won four of their last five, including victories over Rutgers and Michigan State, following a four-game losing streak. They come in off a 79-54 defeat of Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois.