Indiana senior forward Race Thompson is likely to return this season after suffering a knee injury in Iowa

Indiana Senior Forward Race Thompson could return this season.

The 6-foot-8 forward suffered a knee injury in Iowa on Thursday (January 5) but the season is not expected to end.

There is a possibility of a return in or before February. Knee injuries can make it difficult to predict a specific timeline, but at the time, there is optimism about a return this season.

Thompson was on crutches for the second half of IU’s 91-89 Big Ten road loss in Iowa on Thursday.

Thompson has started 76 straight games, a streak that will end Sunday when No. 15 Indiana (10-4, 1-2 Big Ten) hosts Northwestern (11-3, 2-1). on Sunday in the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (noon, FS1).

Thompson defended Iowa star Kris Murray well in the first half before getting injured. Murray scored 21 of his 30 points in the second half as the Hawkeyes recovered from a 21-point deficit to win 91-89.

Thompson averages 8.4 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.1 assists.

Indiana will be without two starters for at least a while — Thompson and point guard Xavier Johnson (foot). Johnson underwent surgery in Kansas on December 17 after a foot injury. Johnson averages 9.9 points, 4.9 assists and 3.3 rebounds. There is hope that Johnson could potentially return before the end of the season, but that pretty much depends on how he heals after foot surgery.

Race Thompson, Indiana’s sixth-year senior forward, is assisted from the ground during the IU game in Iowa Jan. 5, 2022. (Photo: USA TODAY Sports)

Sophomore 6-foot-5 guard Tamar Bates made his first start Thursday in Iowa.

IU has the option of starting someone like freshman 6-foot-9 forward Malik Reneau in Thompson’s place, or going with a smaller lineup, potentially with someone like 6-foot-4 junior Trey Galloway.

Two other Indiana starters, last-season All-American 6-foot-9 forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and 6-foot-5 freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino, missed time this season due to back problems.

Jackson-Davis was visibly in pain Thursday in Iowa but still had 30 points, nine rebounds, three blocked shots and three while playing 38 minutes.

The Iowa game was the first of nine games in January for the Hoosiers. The rest of this month Indiana has home games against Northwestern, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State; and street games in Penn State, Illinois, Minnesota and Maryland.

Thompson, a sixth grader at Armstrong High School in Minnesota, has nine double-doubles in his career, ranking second only to Jackson-Davis’ 36 double-doubles among active IU players.

Thompson averaged 11.1 points and 7.5 rebounds last season while helping the Hoosiers to the NCAA tournament.

Thompson had nine points, was 4-for-4 from the field, with three rebounds, an assist, a blocked shot and a steal in addition to his defense against Murray in 10 minutes in Iowa Thursday before he was injured.

Thompson also suffered a serious concussion early in his career as well as a groin injury that combined cost him much of the 2018-19 season. In his freshman year at IU, he was a redshirt to get himself healthy and in shape for high major collegiate basketball.

“I’ll do anything to win the game,” Thompson said in 2019. “I don’t care about points. I don’t care about rebounds. I don’t care about my body. Fine, I’ll take care of my body, but I’ll risk my body for my boys, throw myself down, attack myself.

“I don’t really care as long as we win the game. I’ll really do anything to win the game.”

Thompson has played 114 career games at IU with 76 starts. He has 864 career points and 649 career rebounds.

He played nine games as a redshirt freshman and 29 as a redshirt sophomore in 2018-19. He became a starter in 2020-21 and has started every game he’s played since.