IU put together a full 40 minutes of suffocating defense in its 85-49 victory Friday, holding Northern Illinois to just 30 percent shooting from the field in a wire-to-wire Hoosier blowout.
Trayce Jackson-Davis took it upon himself to host a block party Friday night and every Husky player was invited. He sent shots back left and right, tallying seven total rejections, a new career high which tied Steve Downing for the fourth most blocks in a game in program history. Indiana collected nine total blocked shots.
Jackson-Davis was not alone in his efforts. The point guard combination of Xavier Johnson and Rob Phinisee harassed the opposition on the perimeter, rarely allowing their guards to initiate any sort of offense in the half court.
Seeing the two play together has been a common sight through these first two games and afterward head coach Mike Woodson spoke on what they bring to the table in the backcourt.
“Both guys can defend, both can initiate our offense, so that’s a bonus for me,” Woodson said.
Woodson went on to detail more of his team’s defensive approach and what brought the game plan to fruition.
“We were solid right from the start, I thought we did a great job on their perimeter play…we did a great job of moving our feet and keeping them in front of us,” Woodson said.
The Huskies dragged along, making just 14 field goals. In fact, three of those never actually entered the hoop because of goal tending calls. Keshawn Williams scored 21 of their 49 points and was their only player who had more than six.
It was the type of defensive effort Indiana should expect to put forth in the coming months as the offense tries to catch up. Woodson wants a team that is going to bring its hard hat to work every day and look to play well enough defensively to give the team a chance to win every game.
This roster is built around collective buy-in defensively. Woodson has instilled that message in his players because he believes it will teach them how to win.
“I’ve always thought there’s always another level that a player can get to and from a coaching standpoint that’s what we’re trying to push these guys to continue to play at a high level and play harder,” Woodson said.
After not being disappointed with a close victory Tuesday night, Woodson said he loved what he saw from his guys in a more comfortable win.
“I just thought tonight it was a total team effort. Everybody that played tonight gave us effort and did exactly what we asked them to do which was kind of nice to see,” he said with a smile.
Indiana is 2-0 to start for the fourth consecutive year. IU awaits another non-conference opponent when St. John’s comes to Bloomington in what promises to be an early test for Woodson’s Hoosiers.