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Instant Takeaways: Trayce Jackson-Davis struggles again, Indiana loses to Michigan State for third straight loss

The Indiana men’s basketball team took a 76-61 defeat at Michigan State on Saturday.

Here are some quick takeaways from the Hoosiers’ third consecutive loss.

Trayce Jackson-Davis struggles again

After going 7-for-22 in IU’s first two games of the losing streak, Indiana’s star Trayce Jackson-Davis continued his slump, going 5-for-13 against Michigan State. Jackson-Davis has not lived up to his hype recently and it has significantly hurt the Hoosiers.

This is a team that will only go as far as Jackson-Davis goes. Every other player on this squad has had poor games which Indiana has been able to overcome. But besides the Purdue victory, IU won’t be racking up too many wins with Jackson-Davis not being special. Indiana has another two tough matchups ahead of them, and the play of Jackson-Davis will be crucial.

The free-throw disparity made the difference

While Indiana shot 16-for-27 (59.3 percent) at the foul line, Michigan State was 25-for-28 (89.3 percent). This shouldn’t be a surprise, as the Hoosiers came into Saturday's game shooting 68.3 percent at the line on the season. The Spartans entered Saturday shooting 76 percent at the charity stripe.

This has been an issue for Indiana for years and nothing changed on Saturday. Mike Woodson expressed his frustration with free throws postgame, saying, “There’s no excuse for free throws. We've just got to be better in that area.” 

With 24 games down in the season, it will be quite the challenge to make those improvements at the line.

The starting lineup isn't the problem, the team is

Mike Woodson finally did it. He changed the starting lineup. Trey Galloway responded to becoming an official starter by scoring…one point. Parker Stewart, who was moved to the second unit, scored four and was 1-for-6 at the free-throw line. Miller Kopp, who many fans wanted to be replaced as a starter, had just three points.

While the starting lineup concerns are valid, the true issue is the overall ability of the players on the current roster. Indiana has too many inconsistent players to compete at the Big Ten level. 

Today, Tamar Bates was the team’s best backcourt player offensively, as Bates had 13 points. But we know that won’t be the case on Tuesday against Wisconsin. Why do we know this? Because that’s just how it goes for the guards on this roster. They haven’t shown the ability to put together a string of good offensive performances, and it’s hurting the Hoosiers at the wrong time.

The Khristian Lander experiment might be over

With Rob Phinisee remaining inactive with plantar fasciitis, Khristian Lander was Indiana’s expected backup point guard following his suspension. However, Mike Woodson chose to give Trey Galloway point guard responsibilities for the second game in a row, with Lander playing just one garbage time minute.

Lander has struggled to get consistent playing time all season and Phinisee’s injury was supposed to mean an opportunity for Lander to live up to his five-star status. Now, after being one of five suspended players on Tuesday against Northwestern, it appears that Lander has been iced out of the rotation yet again. 

Maybe Woodson looks at this loss and goes back to Lander on Tuesday but currently, the Khristian Lander project looks dim nearing the end of his sophomore season.

This team feels defeated and disconnected

There were one of two ways that Indiana’s roster could respond to the suspension of five teammates. They could band together and go on a run, or let the Northwestern fiasco hamper the remainder of the season. 

It’s hard to give a definitive answer of how the players responded after one game, but the response does not look like a positive one at the moment. The tight bond that it felt this team once had may be fading away.

Tuesday night will give us more answers. It’s a home game against a Wisconsin team that embarrassed Indiana in the second half in a 64-59 Badgers victory on Dec. 8. 

If this team doesn’t come out with passion and energy against the Badgers, then that should tell you all you need to know about the state of the Hoosiers.

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