No. 12 Indiana expects a tough road test against Xavier

Nov 7, 2022;  Bloomington, Indiana, USA;  Indiana Hoosiers forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (23) smiles during the second half at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  Mandatory Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

The No. 12 Indiana Hoosiers travels 130 miles east to face Xavier in Cincinnati on Friday as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games.

The Hoosiers (2-0) and Musketeers (3-0) are undefeated in their competition, which is part of an annual eight-game series played between teams from the Big Ten and Big East conferences.

Indiana earned a dominant 101-49 win over Bethune-Cookman on November 10 when Trayce Jackson-Davis had 21 points and six rebounds and Miller Kopp added 12.

The Musketeers defeated the Fairfield visit Tuesday 78-65 behind senior forward Zach Freemantle, who had only the fifth triple-double in school history with 15 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists. Freemantle had never had more than four assists in a game in his career.

“I just had a night where I couldn’t really shoot,” Freemantle said, “so I might as well give it to someone who can.”

“Triple doubles are tough,” said Xavier coach Sean Miller. “I don’t know if I’ve ever had a player get a triple-double. I think that shows Zach’s versatility, his talent. What I loved about his game (Tuesday night) was that he got off to a bad start… but he got past that and kept playing.”

Freemantle had the opportunity in part because Xavier played against Fairfield without last-season first-team All-Big East pick Colby Jones, who sat out Monday’s practice session after suffering an ankle injury. Miller doesn’t know if Jones, who averages 13.5 points, 7.0 assists and 4.0 rebounds per game, can compete against the Hoosiers.

“The good news is that the X-rays were negative,” Miller said. “I know Colby hopes he can play. We will certainly not endanger him.”

Jones averaged 13.5 points, 7 assists and 4 rebounds in Xavier’s opening games against Morgan State and Montana. If he can’t line up against the Hoosiers, it will put one of Indiana coach Mike Woodson’s theories to the test.

“In the short time I’ve been a coach in college, I really believe that to win at a high level, you have to have good point guard play and good perimeter play,” Woodson said. “If you watched great teams last season and the teams that seem to win at a high level every year, they have good wingers and good guards up front.”

Indiana is favored to win the Big Ten and go a long way in the NCAA tournament — provided its backcourt of Xavier Johnson and Jalen Hood-Schifino can be efficient and consistently knock down 3-pointers.

So far, Johnson has averaged 5.5 points, 4.5 assists and 2.0 turnovers in 19.5 minutes per game, while Hood-Schifino has averaged 7.5 points, 6.0 assists and 3.0 turnovers in 27.5 minutes per game. achieved 0 turnover. Hood-Schifino has scored 0 to 5 out of 3, but the Hoosiers score 40 percent as a group — a far cry from last year’s .333 conversion rate.

“‘X’ has proven itself,” Woodson said. “I thought he proved that at the end of last season. Jalen is still learning but I think his performance is ahead of schedule for us.”

Jackson-Davis, who was named Tuesday’s Wooden Preseason Top 50 watchlist, beats the Hoosiers with 18.0 points and 6.5 rebounds in 22.0 minutes per game. He will face off against former Iowa Big Man and current Xavier forward Jack Nunge, who is averaging a team-high 18.0 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.0 blocks in 24.7 minutes per night.

–Field level media