INDIANAPOLIS — Their Friday-Sunday about-face got Mike Woodson’s Hoosiers off to a slow start against Miami, Ohio, but Wasser eventually found his level with an 86-56 win.
Here are three reasons why:
No. 13 Indiana’s early lethargy was understandable. The Hoosiers (4-0) didn’t even drive home after Friday’s demanding, emotional win at Xavier, opting instead to head straight to Indianapolis and spend the short lap there.
They played like a group that came out on top in Cincinnati, cutting shots, missing 50-50 rebounds and making fatigue errors. That kept Miami going for a while, even taking a brief one-point lead at one point.
Ultimately, quality would show, particularly in the post where Trayce Jackson-Davis (17 points, 16 rebounds) put on another vintage performance. But it took IU time to find his best Sunday after his Friday night exertions.
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Trayce Jackson-Davis outstanding
It may not be tempting to call him Trayce Jackson-Davis Big Ten Player of the Week.
He was unplayable at Xavier, where his 30 points led to a winning streak in the Hoosiers’ biggest road win in years. It was hardly a surprise that the RedHawks didn’t have an answer for him.
Taken together, however, this weekend was good publicity to the rest of college basketball that Jackson-Davis has earned his All-American billing and that he is ready for the challenges ahead.
Sean Miller, whose brother Archie Jackson-Davis recruited to Indiana, couldn’t stop poetic about IU’s senior forward after the game on Friday. He pointed out how much stronger Jackson-Davis has become and how well he is playing out of defensive traps compared to earlier in his career.
With that strength, his vision on the court, his passing range and his improved skills on the edge, Jackson-Davis proves devilishly difficult to play a doubles team. Miami often didn’t even try.
Nothing the RedHawks tried slowed him down much. It may be putting the cart before the horse to collect its Player of the Week award, but it’s hard to imagine anyone else in the conference having had a better week.
Woodson was able to monitor minutes when needed during those first three weeks.
No Hoosier played more than 25 on Sunday, important after a physically and emotionally draining Friday night. Despite the slow start, this was a third guaranteed game in as many tries in which Woodson was able to seed his starters and empty his bench, keeping minutes off his legs he would need most in February and March.
It’s a small thing, but little things add up this time of year. And with two more games this week – completing a stretch of four in eight days – the rest is no small feat.
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.