With 14:52 left in Indiana’s matinee against Michigan State on Sunday, the Hoosiers led by a point, 45-44. After a media timeout, Indiana subbed in Tamar Bates in favor of starting point guard Jalen Hood-Schifino.
An IU onslaught ensued.
The Hoosiers began to thrive with Hood-Schifino, the team’s second-leading scorer, on the bench. Bates and Trey Galloway rose to the occasion as Indiana’s primary ball handlers. Galloway and Bates scored 17 points each and combined to sink eight of IU’s nine made 3s.
“It's all about trust,” Indiana head coach Mike Woodson said. "Tamar, he had been struggling the last few games, and he stepped up and played tonight. [Galloway] has been solid. He's been solid from day one. I like [Galloway] because he plays hard and does all the intangible things, things guys don't like to do. The trust factor is there.”
Indiana went on several runs and led 72-60 by the time Hood-Schifino reentered the game with 3:39 left. IU closed out the contest, winning 82-69 in front of a riled-up Assembly Hall crowd.
Xavier Johnson, Indiana's other point guard, has missed over a month with a foot injury. There were times this season when it seemed impossible for Indiana to score efficiently without Johnson or Hood-Schifino on the floor. But on Sunday, IU’s role players made the difference.
Galloway says the work he did in the offseason made him comfortable to be IU’s lead ball handler now.
“Just running that second unit helped me out to get ready for the season,” Galloway said. “It was really hard going against Jalen and Xavier in the fall. They made me a lot better, being able to handle the ball and practice against each other and getting that experience in practice, really helped out and it showed today.”
Not only did Bates thrive, but his infant daughter stole the show on Sunday. Leilani Bates pulled off a comeback victory at halftime of the game.
“I seen she was crying the whole time, but we'll take it, first competition ever. She's undefeated,” Bates said.
While Bates and Galloway gave crucial support, Trayce Jackson-Davis remained the star for the Hoosiers on Sunday. The senior big man had 31 points, 15 rebounds, four assists and five blocks to lead IU.
“In the second half, we spaced the floor and allowed me to go one-on-one,” said Jackson-Davis, who had 18 second-half points. “I feel like there's not a person in the country that can honestly guard me. So it is what it is when we hit shots, and everything is clicking.”
Jackson-Davis has delivered back-to-back 30-point games for the second time in his career. Sunday’s performance marked the 40th double-double of his career. Jackson-Davis’ five blocked shots tied him with Jeff Newton for the most in an Indiana career (227).
“I think you're looking at a complete player, for four years, that has done it at a high level,” Woodson said of Jackson-Davis. "I mean, can't a lot of players say they have averaged 18, 19, 20 a game every year in college. You add his rebounding, his ability to block shots, his assists, his ability to handle the ball and pushing him to initiate the break. I mean, there's nothing the guy can't do on the basketball floor.”
When three players—Jackson-Davis, Galloway and Bates—combine for 64 points, your team won’t lose many games. The Hoosiers were the second team to score over 70 against Michigan State in the past 11 games and the first team to reach the 80-point threshold against the Spartans since No. 4 Alabama did so on Thanksgiving.
Indiana saw Jackson-Davis’ buddy and sixth-year senior Race Thompson return against the Spartans. Thompson missed four games with a leg injury he suffered at Iowa on Jan. 5.
Thompson saw just four minutes of action and did not score off the bench. With Jordan Geronimo and Malik Reneau seeing increased roles in Thompson’s absence, it will be fascinating to watch how Woodson and his staff integrate Thompson back into the lineup.
After a three-game losing streak to begin 2023, Indiana has flipped it to a three-game winning streak. The Hoosiers move on to play at Minnesota, the Big Ten’s worst team, on Wednesday. A squad that felt deflated nine days ago is now bubbling with energy, and its supplementary players are hitting their strides.