MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — There’s that age-old phrase about “winners ugly,” and that’s exactly what Indiana did Wednesday night. The Hoosiers clinched a 61-57 win in Minnesota and came from behind in the final 47 seconds to beat the bottom-ranked team in the Big Ten.
It was ugly. Very ugly even. But it was also a win, the fourth straight for the Hoosiers. It was a great escape to be sure.
“At the end of the day, we found a way to win,” said Indiana senior Trayce Jackson-Davis, the current Big Ten player of the week. He led the Hoosiers with 25 points and 21 rebounds. It was the first 20/20 game for an Indiana player since DJ White in 2009.
He became the first player since Connecticut’s Hasheem Thabeet in 2009 to have at least 25 points, 20 rebounds and five blocks in a game. Jackson-Davis had six blocks, breaking his tie with Jeffrey Newton to become Indiana’s all-time all-time shot blocker.
Digging deep in the record books has become a regular thing at Jackson-Davis in recent weeks. In the past four games, he has 109 points and 56 rebounds, a whopping average of 27.1 points and 14.0 rebounds per game.
However, Indiana was never in control of this game. They were lagging more than they were leading, and that was against a Minnesota team that is now 1-8 in the Big Ten and had just seven grantees to play. They were down 24-18 at one point in the first half but took a 33-30 lead at halftime with a 15-6 run.
Jackson-Davis had nine points in the first half, as did Miller Kopp. Malik Reneau had 10 but only played a minute in the second half.
Indiana led by seven points with 12:30 to go, but Minnesota continued to fight back behind Jamison Battle, who finished with 20 points and hit four threes.
But in the 6:22 final, Minnesota couldn’t get a shot and Indiana had a chance. The Gophers were only 1-for-11 on the stretch and never scored again after Jamison made two free throws to give them a 57-54 lead with 3:20 left.
Jackson-Davis scored in a dunk after a nice pass from Race Thompson, who got the start after missing more than two weeks with a knee injury. That made it 57-56.
Thompson was fouled on his own drive with 43 seconds to go. He made the first to tie the game but missed the second. Jackson-Davis was there to grab the rebound, however, and he used it again to put the Hoosiers ahead.
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At the other end, Ta’lon Cooper missed a shot for Minnesota and Kopp went down to chase the loose ball. He grabbed it and called a quick timeout. Indiana got the ball in play and Trey Galloway took two free throws to stop the game.
Kopp, who finished with 11 points, got that big rebound to seal it.
“Credit Miller. He had some clutch baskets for us and he was really committed,” said Jackson-Davis. “He’s a great leader and he came here to record. It rushes, it plays defense, it dives the ground, and it’s so much more than just a catch-and-shoot shooter.
“At the end of the day it was a group effort and we made a lot of stops when it was necessary.”
The Hoosiers played without coach Mike Woodson, who had to miss the game due to COVID. Yasir Rosemond took over, and he had a lot of help from fellow assistants Kenya Hunter and Brian Walsh
“It’s part of what Coach Woody preaches every day, that next man mentality,” Jackson-Davis said. “We didn’t even know Coach wouldn’t be there tonight until this morning, but we all stuck together and we came together as one.
Indiana is now 14-6 and 5-4 in the Big Ten, the first time they’ve been .500 in league play all year.
This was a game they would have lost in recent years, so even an ugly win was a good thing.
What mattered was the win.
“Throughout my career, we’ve struggled in games like this and couldn’t finish them,” Jackson-Davis said. “We made it, and that’s what matters.”
The other three starters found it difficult offensively to get a lot going. Jalen Hood-Schifino was only 2-for-11 out of the field, ending with six points. Galloway had five on 1-of-5 shooting and Thompson had four points on 1-of-4 shooting. Tamar Bates, who had 17 points on Sunday after two goalless games, went 0-3 on Wednesday and failed to score.
Indiana are back in action Saturday night when they take on Ohio State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Game starts at 8pm ET.