BLOOMINGTON — The Indiana men’s basketball team surprised the 17,222 faithful at Simon Skjodt’s assembly hall on Sunday.
Race Thompson, who injured his knee Jan. 5 in Iowa, returned to action for the Hoosiers. A nice development for Indiana, but that wasn’t the biggest surprise of the day.
That was reserved for the second half. With 13 minutes left against Michigan State, Indiana had 10 straight points to finally take the lead en route to an 82-69 win.
It was the players Indiana had relied on to fuel the run that provided the Hoosiers with good news.
Tamar Bates, Malik Reneau and Trey Galloway all accounted for 10 of those points. In fact, after Indiana led 59-51 after the surge, Trayce Jackson-Davis didn’t score a field goal in the second half.
The fact that the Hoosiers could count on others to push their way across the line was very welcome.
“In those last three games, everyone played a big part in us winning. It’s not just Trayce. He’s driving the car, but the supporting cast also weighed in and did their jobs,” said Indiana coach Mike Woodson.
Not that Jackson-Davis didn’t make his presence felt. Indiana’s All-American also confirmed his will as he pulled off another monster performance with 31 points, 15 rebounds, five blocks and four assists.
“The improvement he’s made over last year to take the pressure and handle it so well – our backs were against the wall earlier in the Big Ten season and he stayed composed. He’s in pain, he struggled through it and now he’s sort of healthy. It shows,” Galloway said.
Michigan State made just four of its last 14 shots in the second half. Indiana bucked a trend as Joey Hauser led the Spartans by 22 points. Michigan State had not lost until Sunday’s game, when Hauser scored 12 or more points.
As for Thompson? He came off the bench and played four minutes.
The Hoosiers (13-6, 4-4 Big Ten) started slow at both ends. Indiana missed 10 of his first 13 shots while Hauser never seemed to miss. The Spartans forward made five of his first six shots. Meanwhile, Indiana top scorers Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino scored together to start 0-on-8 from the field.
The Spartans controlled the first 12 minutes but never led by more than nine minutes despite shooting almost 50%.
Michigan State led 25-16 with 7:43 left when the Hoosiers found their feet. A hook shot from Reneau started a 10-0 run in Indiana. Four different Hoosiers scored during the surge, but Jackson-Davis’ revival was the most significant.
The All-American ended the first half by scoring nine of his 13 first-half points in the 7:43 final, including resounding dunks over the top of Hauser and Jaxon Kohler.
Michigan State (13-7, 5-4) also went into an offensive funk, failing to score on nine of their last 13 possessions, while Indiana has scored on nine of their last 14 trips to lead 37-32 at halftime.
Michigan State put its fate in the hands of its guards in the second half. Jaden Akins scored a quick seven points and Tyson Walker contributed four. The Spartans made seven of their first nine shot attempts in the second half to take a 51-49 lead.
After that, the Hoosiers eliminated the Spartans. Five of Michigan State’s next six holdings were empty, and Indiana pounced.
Bates, whose 10-month-old daughter Leilani won the halftime crawl, hit a 3-pointer to put Indiana ahead. Reneau followed with two free throws, then Bates struck again from long range.
“She got the dub. First competition ever and she’s undefeated,” Bates said of his daughter. “The way Trayce plays, we had to stay ready to shoot or drive. What’s more, we had to be ready defensively. With their three guards, our three guards on both sides of the floor had to make up for everything they brought.”
Galloway and Kopp followed with buckets as Indiana surged to a 59-51 advantage it never gave up.
From that point on, Jackson-Davis did his thing. The Indiana Center scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half after the Hoosiers’ 10-0 run. He also tied Jeff Newton as Indiana’s all-time leader in blocked shots.
Jackson-Davis played with a swagger that wasn’t quite as evident in previous games.
“In the second half we shared the ground and that allowed me to go one on one. I feel like there is no person in the country who can honestly protect me. It’s what it is when we hit shots and we click. We’re hard to beat,” Jackson-Davis said.
Indiana, winner of three straight games after previously losing three straight games, plays next in Big Ten basement dweller Minnesota on Wednesday.