College Hoops

The Minute After: Kent State – Inside the Hall

The Minute After: Kent State - Inside the Hall

Editor’s note: Ryan is out on paternity leave. Justin Albers will be writing The Minute After in his absence.

Thoughts on a 71-60 win against Kent State:

This Indiana team had waited a long time for an opportunity like this – and the Hoosiers made the most of it on Friday night.

For the first time since 2016, Indiana advanced to the NCAA tournament’s round of 32 with a 71-60 win over 13-seed Kent State in a game it led for all but 15 seconds. The fourth-seeded Hoosiers will play 5-seed Miami on Sunday evening.

Given what we’ve seen through the first two days of the NCAA tournament – and what the Indiana program has experienced over the last seven years – you can’t take anything for granted. The Indiana seniors made sure that didn’t happen on Friday.

Desperate to avoid ending their collegiate careers without a true NCAA tournament win, Indiana’s veterans were locked in against the Golden Flashes. Sixth-year senior Race Thompson was spectacular from the start, scoring 10 of his season-high 20 points in the first 6 minutes and 16 seconds. He brought a calmness that helped the Hoosiers settle in against a dangerous Kent State team.

Miller Kopp, a fifth-year senior, played one of his most complete games of the season – finishing with 13 points and five rebounds in 36 minutes – including three big 3-pointers, each coming after Kent State had made a little run.

And then there was Trayce Jackson-Davis, who took over the game down the stretch and killed the Golden Flashes’ spirit for good. After back-to-back Jalen Sullinger 3-pointers cut Indiana’s lead to eight with 9:16 left, Jackson-Davis scored three consecutive baskets over the next 97 seconds – including two highlight reel dunks.

The first-team All-American showed off all of his skills in front of a national audience, finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and five blocks. Jackson-Davis blocked two shots in the game’s first three minutes, and after that, his sheer presence around the rim forced a ton of Kent State misses.

“This team can score the ball,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said of Kent State during his postgame television interview. “Our defense was really good tonight.”

The opportunistic Hoosiers turned that defense into easy offense against a team they clearly believed they could take advantage of in transition. Indiana hasn’t run a ton this year – the Hoosiers entered the game averaging under 11 fastbreak points per game – but by…

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