No. 12 Indiana (3-0) had to scratch and claw its way to victory Friday night in its first road test of the season, outlasting Xavier, 81-79, at the Cintas Center.
Indiana star senior forward Trayce Jackson Davis scored a game-high 30 points on 13-of-16 shooting, including 17 points in the first half. The preseason All-American also added six rebounds and three blocks in 37 minutes. senior guard Xavier Johnson anchored IU’s backcourt with 23 points on 7-of-8 shooting, plus seven rebounds and two assists. Freshman forward Malik Reneau chipped in 12 points and six rebounds despite playing with four fouls for a majority of the second half.
The Musketeers nearly willed themselves to victory on the back of an all-around scoring effort. Souley Boom and Zach Freemantle each had a team-high 15 points, while Jack Nunge finished with 14 points, and colby jones and Adam Kunkel added 13 points.
A chaotic final two minutes saw Indiana squander a 78-70 and allowed Xavier to go on a 5-0 scoring run. But a pair of free-throw makes from Miller Kopp (7 points) with 1:50 to play grew IU’s lead back out to 80-75. Following a free-throw make and a 3-pointer from Boum that cut IU’s lead to just one point, Reneau missed both free-throw tries, but Kunkel’s layup attempt on the other end rimmed out and rebounded by Johnson, who made the game- sealing free-throw with two seconds remaining.
The battle of the bigs was the storyline heading into the matchup, and it certainly did not disappoint. Whether it was Jackson-Davis making his first seven shots of the game, or Nunge and Freemantle finding success in the post-up game, neither team shied away from their inside-out mentality. Indiana scored 50 points in the paint, while Xavier followed closely with 40 points down low.
However, when the game did necessitate perimeter play, it was the Musketeers that had the advantage early. Xavier shot 4-of-8 from the 3-point line in the first half, while Indiana didn’t make its first perimeter shot until 2:53 remaining before halftime. The Hoosiers started the game 0-of-5 from beyond the arc, which dug them an early hole and allowed the Musketeers to take control.
Indiana eventually found its shooting stroke toward the end of the first half, though, with 3-pointers from Johnson and Jalen Hood Schifino (3 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists). The Hoosiers finished the night shooting 4-of-12 from beyond the arc, including a big 3-pointer from Kopp in the final minutes, and 51.7 percent from the field.
But where Indiana lacked in its perimeter play in the first half, Xavier wrestled away early momentum. The Musketeers ran out to a nine-point lead on two separate occasions before halftime, thanks to an all-around scoring effort that saw six different players score at least four points at the break.
If it weren’t for Jackson-Davis and Johnson’s 28 combined first-half points for Indiana, the Hoosiers very likely would’ve found themselves down by double-digits. Instead, Xavier clung to a 40-38 lead as the Hoosiers finished the first period on a 13-7 scoring run.
In the second half, foul trouble plagued both teams mightily. By the under-16 minute media timeout, the Musketeers were already whistled for six fouls, including four on Boom and three on Freemantle, which kept both on the bench for a long stretch in the second half. But Indiana wasn’t exempt either as Johnson and Reneau were each assessed technical fouls for taunting after shot makes, negating a pair of potential IU scoring runs.
With the amount of whistles in the second half, the game became a slog down the stretch as the starts and stops continued to mount. Collectively, 41 personal fouls were dished out to both teams, setting up a chaotic final five minutes.
An 8-0 run from Indiana with 4:11 to play gave the Hoosiers a 73-66 lead, but it wasn’t enough to comfortably put away Xavier just yet. The Musketeers responded with a 9-4 scoring run to cut the deficit back down to three with 1:51 remaining. Though the Hoosiers nearly gave the game away at the end, making only 1-of-4 shots from the free-throw line, IU’s defense stepped up in the final minute.
With the win, the Hoosiers improve to 3-0 on the season. Up next, IU has a one-day turnaround before playing Miami-Ohio on Sunday evening at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Key stretches and plays:
1H: 15:17 – Zach Freemantle layup –> Xavier on 8-0 run (XU leads 8-4)
1H: 12:36 – Malik Reneau two offensive rebounds + putback layup (XU leads 14-12)
1H: 9:14 – Adam Kunkel deep 3-pointer –> Jack Nunge layup and-1 (XU leads 22-13)
1H: 6:08 – KyKy Tandy 3-pointer –> XU 4-7 from 3-pointer (XU leads 31-23)
1H: 2:53 – Xavier Johnson 3-pointer –> UI’s first 3-pointer of game (XU leads 33-32)
1H: 2:53 – Johnson assessed technical foul –> Souley Boom 2-2FT (XU leads 35-32)
1H: 1:35 – Jalen Hood Schifino 3-pointer (XU leads 39-35)
HALFTIME — Xavier leads 40-38
2H: 18:55 – Johnson layup –> IU first lead since 18:29 in 1H (UI leads 42-40)
2H: 14:07 – Reneau layup –> Reneau assessed technical foul (UI leads 54-48)
2H: 11:15 – Tandy layup + and-1 –> Tandy misses FT; Nunge grabs offensive rebound (UI leads 57-55)
2H: 9:37 – Kunkel 3-pointer (Tied 60-60)
2H: 6:47- Colby Jones 2-2 FTs –> Johnson 3-pointer on other end (UI leads 65-64)
2H: 5:10 – Johnson steal + layup (UI leads 71-66)
2H: 2:25 – Miller kopp 3-pointer –> UI we have 13-4 scoring run (UI leads 78-70)
2H: 1:51 – Jones steal + layup and-1 (UI leads 78-75)
2H:00:57 – Boom 3-pointer (UI leads 80-79)
2H: 00:12 – Reneau 0-2 FTs (UI leads 80-79)
2H: 00:2 -Johnson rebound + crowded –> 1-2 FTs (UI leads 81-79)