ALBANY, N.Y. — Finality is often a somber moment. For Indiana, the season concluded in a gloomy fashion, as the Hoosiers fell 85-69 to Miami in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
IU’s locker room was devastated. Trey Galloway went around the room dapping up each of his teammates. Jalen Hood-Schifino shared an extensive hug with Trayce Jackson-Davis. Tamar Bates and Xavier Johnson did the same. Nathan Childress was too distraught to formulate full sentences. Jordan Geronimo flung and booted random objects in his way.
This team (and its core) has been together for a while. But for five seniors (and potentially a few underclassmen), this is the finale.
It was always going to end like this. The Hoosiers finished the year with 12 losses, eight of which came by double-digit margins. When Indiana gets beat, it gets beat badly. Miami controlled most of the game after jumping to an 8-0 start.
The Hoosiers bounced back and even led twice in the second half. Indiana scored eight straight points out of the halftime locker room to lead. The two squads wrestled with the lead for a few minutes.
But once the Hurricanes went on a 14-2 spurt to go ahead 63-51, IU had no response.
“That's what we wanted to do coming out of halftime,” Indiana forward Miller Kopp said. “So for us, we were feeling really confident, putting Trayce in a good position to share the ball and attack. We just didn't keep that up.”
Miami controlled the contest on the offensive glass. Miami grabbed 20 offensive rebounds and scored 29 second-chance points. This comes just two days after Kent State snagged 19 offensive rebounds against Indiana.
“Everyone was crashing,” Jackson-Davis said of Miami’s rebounding approach. “They didn't have guards getting back. Everyone was going to get the ball.”
Indiana was unable to keep pace with Miami. Isaiah Wong logged 27 points for the Hurricanes while Jordan Miller contributed with a 19-point outing.
“At the end of the day, they just kind of out-toughed us,” Galloway said. “You can’t have that in a tournament because everyone’s desperate.”
The Hoosiers have not won a game under second-year head coach Mike Woodson when the opponent scores 80 or more points.
For the second year in a row, IU’s season concluded with a blowout defeat, following a 29-point loss to St. Mary's in the Round of 64 last year. The Hoosiers haven’t reached the Sweet 16 since 2016, although this was the furthest they have advanced since then.
“We made a step forward based on where we were a year ago, but it's not good enough as far as I'm concerned,” Woodson said. “We've got to get better from a personnel standpoint, and I've got to get better as a coach. I mean, it's just that simple.”
The outstanding career of Jackson-Davis ended with a 23-point, eight-rebound, five-block performance. He finished his tenure at Indiana third in points (2,258), first in rebounds (1,143) and first in blocks (270).
Jackson-Davis was selected to an All-Big Ten Team in each of his four seasons in Bloomington. He was also voted a consensus All-American this year.
“We totally appreciate it for him because we were able to literally witness history,” Bates said. “What he means to not only the state of Indiana and the university but just to this team, it’ll live on forever.”
Indiana is now tasked with transitioning away from the Jackson-Davis era. He, along with Kopp and Race Thompson, have rocked the cream and crimson uniform for the final time.
The Hoosiers will lose their seniors and could see freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino declare for the NBA Draft early. In today’s age of college sports, the transfer portal could shave into Indiana’s roster. The 2023-24 Indiana squad will be the first team in Woodson’s tenure that’s mainly made of players he recruited.
For now, Indiana and its upperclassmen leave a complicated legacy. Some will remember the blowout defeats. Others will remember the triumphant wins over Purdue and the NCAA Tournament victories.
There is no simple way to commemorate this bunch of players and their careers, but they have returned hope to the program and jump started the remainder of Woodson’s tenure.