INDIANAPOLIS – Trayce Jackson-Davis scored 21 points and Armaan Franklin had a career-high 20 on 5-for-7 shooting from 3-point range to lead the Hoosiers to a 68-60 win over Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
- The defense hasn't arrived yet ... : Archie Miller has praised Indiana's defensive ability and effort all season and the Hoosiers have mostly backed up what he's been saying. Today, that wasn't the case. Indiana struggled to defend a Butler team that hasn't been great offensively this year, getting burned from beyond the arc and in the paint, especially in the first half. The Bulldogs had too many open 3-pointers because of miscommunications from the Hoosiers defensively, but more concerning were the multiple times Butler drivers just bullied their way to the rim. Jerome Hunter and Race Thompson both let Bulldog players essentially stick their armpits in the rim in the opening half. Thompson especially had a difficult first half and was not the type of aggressive, rugged defender he has been for much of this season. That changed in the second half as he got going and Indiana's defense ratcheted up its intensity by about six notches – Butler shot 54% in the first half and turned the ball over only five times, compared to 27% in the second half with nine turnovers – and it was encouraging to see Indiana make second-half adjustments. Still, the Hoosiers remain inconsistent and they'll need bring that second-half focus all year to be competitive in the Big Ten.
- ... but Armaan Franklin has: (If anything positive came out of this game for Indiana), it was the play of Franklin, who continues to grow into his role as Indiana's best backcourt player. The sophomore from Indianapolis kept the Hoosiers in the game in the first half with a parade of 3-pointers and once he got going from beyond the arc began driving to the hoop aggressively and looking to score in the lane. Indiana desperately needs more of that aggressiveness from its guards to take some pressure off of Trayce Jackson-Davis in the middle (of course, it has to be under control, as well – Franklin committed two offensive fouls). Franklin's confidence as an offensive player is refreshing to see after he clearly struggled with that last season. He's curling off screen ready to shoot the ball and that creates a dilemma for opposing teams who have to account for him and the screener, who is usually Jackson-Davis. That's going to leave one of the sophomores with an opportunity to score and open up this offense significantly. Franklin's improvement has been the most important development for Indiana so far this season.
- Feed Trayce: Despite Franklin's terrific performance, Jackson-Davis was the best player on the floor in this game. In the first half, there was a curious lack of touches for the 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball in the post. Part of the problem was that Northwestern was doing a good job of fronting him in the first half and Jackson-Davis probably wasn't working hard enough to get position – Archie Miller got on him at least once for that – and that got fixed satisfactorily in the second half, when the Indiana big man dominated down low. However, there were also post touches for Race Thompson and Jerome Hunter, neither of whom are nearly as efficient with their back to the basket as the Hoosiers' star. With Indiana finally starting to get going from beyond the arc, Jackson-Davis should have some more room to operate. Indiana needs to make sure it doesn't forget about him, because he can still score pretty much at will one-on-one against almost anyone.
Player of the Game: Trayce Jackson-Davis
Jackson-Davis went 7 of 9 from the field and grabbed eight rebounds to add to his scoring total. He attacked the basket all afternoon, leading to 10 free-throw attempts. He was also a force on defense, setting a career-high with five blocks and adding a steal. Butler had no answer for him, especially in the second half. He has scored at least 20 points in four games this season.
Indiana is 7-3 at the Crossroads Classic, the best record of any of the four teams at the event. ... Indiana has won three games against major-conference opponents this season. ... This was the last non-conference game in the regular season for the Hoosiers. ... Butler was without leading scorer Aaron Thompson (17.5 points per game), who had a sprained knee. The Bulldogs had only nine players in uniform. ... Indiana center Joey Brunk is a Butler transfer who played against the Hoosiers when these teams met in 2018. Brunk was out today with a bad back. He has not played this season. ... Like Brunk, Franklin is an Indianapolis native. He averaged 15 points in two games at Bankers Life Fieldhouse as a freshman, including a 17-point performance against Notre Dame in the 2019 Crossroads Classic. He has 10 3-pointers on 14 attempts in the last two games. ... IU assisted on 19 of its 25 made field goals. ... Indiana went 13 for 33 from 3-point range against North Alabama in its last game. Today, the Hoosiers shot 7 of 16 from beyond the arc. Indiana shot 53% from the field overall. ... The Hoosiers went 11 for 20 at the foul line. Butler was 7 for 14. ... Butler out-rebounded Indiana 35-30. ... Bishop Dwenger graduate Campbell Donovan plays for the Bulldogs. He has not played since suffering a torn ACL in the 2019-20 season-opener against IUPUI.
Indiana is back in action Wednesday for its Big Ten season-opener, a matchup against Northwestern (3-1) at Assembly Hall. The game will tip off at 8:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.
The Wildcats have finished in the bottom two in the Big Ten in back-to-back seasons and their matchup against Indiana is part of a ridiculous early-season conference schedule that includes seven meetings with ranked opponents in the first eight games. Indiana is the only unranked team in that stretch. Northwestern opens its conference slate today with a game against No. 4 Michigan State.