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Illinois out-muscles Indiana in disappointing second-half effort for Hoosiers

It was to the surprise of nobody that Trayce Jackson-Davis found himself in foul trouble early against No. 18 Illinois in the 74-57 loss.

Having to guard a seven-plus footer in Kofi Cockburn was a challenge on its own but Indiana relied on Michael Durr off the bench for most of the first half. A similar story had been written just a few weeks before when Indiana hosted Purdue. Jackson-Davis was in foul trouble early and a scratch-and-claw type effort was needed. 

Unlike the Purdue game, Indiana didn’t show much, if any, effort and urgency in the second half. IU was outscored 40-21 in the second half after heading into the locker room with a two-point lead. 

An issue that plagued Indiana early in the season was the unenergized openings to the half. It seemed as if IU had gotten away from that until Saturday. 

“They put a solid 40-minute ball game together and we put a 20-minute ball game together,” Mike Woodson said postgame. 

In the second half Indiana continuously forced the ball into Jackson-Davis who just couldn’t get anything going. Over and over again Jackson-Davis put his back to Cockburn and missed badly. He finished the game 3-for-9 from the field with six points and six rebounds. 

Why would you continue to feed the ball inside to a guy clearly struggling and not in rhythm? I have no idea. 

Outside the paint, Indiana was abysmal, shooting 3-for-13 on 3-pointers and Miller Kopp, a starter who played 16 minutes, didn’t even attempt a shot. You can’t win if you can’t shoot and if a starter doesn’t put up a single shot.

IU has struggled getting its wing players open and finding them looks all season but it makes the Hoosiers a very one-dimensional team by forcing them to work through the post in a game where Indiana was out-muscled and at disadvantage down low. 

Consistently, IU went to its bigs and nothing worked. 

In the postgame press conference Woodson mentioned how he really didn’t know what the offense was doing on Saturday. 

“I can’t tell you one play we called tonight unless I was calling it,” said Woodson. “We never got into anything.” 

Woodson also mentioned that Xavier Johnson never really dictated the direction of the offense on Saturday, an area he had been improving in. 

Trent Frazier played lights out for the Illini, knocking down three 3-pointers and totaling 23 points. Indiana just couldn’t stop him and it became one of the bigger wins of the season for Illinois. No matter who you are, it’s hard to win at Assembly Hall. 

He was a big part of why the Illini pulled away in the last 10 minutes, he was just too good.

It’s starting to get to that point in the season where teams know each other and start to reach their ceilings. With the Hoosiers still showing flaws in the same areas it was in November, it wouldn’t be stretch to say that this is who they are.

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