BLOOMINGTON — Indiana wasn’t at its best offensively, and neither was Illinois on Saturday. IU dominated the first matchup a month ago, running at its highest capacity. It took more grittiness the second time around in a 71-68 win.

Both teams were cold, and the game became a rock fight

It wasn’t pretty. Neither team shot better than 44% from the field. There missed open looks from 3-point range, sharp-angle misses that led to loose balls and forced transition opportunities. Trayce Jackson-Davis and Dain Dainja went after each other in the post. Illinois had chances to stretch the lead it held for most of the game but couldn’t consistently convert open looks. IU got limited contributions from the perimeter.

It ultimately came down to free throws. Jalen Hood-Schifino made a pair after he was fouled on a midrange jumper to put IU in front. Jayden Epps got to the line on the next possession with 17 seconds left and missed the first. He made the second, but a broken press and Jackson-Davis dunk blew the roof off Assembly Hall, providing the final margin. Illinois’ RJ Melendez missed an open 3-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game into overtime.

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Matthew Mayer’s hot shooting guided Illinois

Malik Reneau guarded Matthew Mayer as the Illinois forward heated up midway through the first half. Reneau moved well side-to-side, cutting off Mayer’s drives toward the basket, but Illinois freed him up with screens. Indiana switched and went under the screens, giving Mayer enough space to launch from 3-point range. He connected on 4 of his 11 attempts from deep with all the makes in the first half and finished the game with 24 points and eight rebounds.

His perimeter game helped keep the Illini afloat as they struggled close to the basket. They shot 9-for-22 on layups, and an inability to hit open shots kept the Hoosiers in the game as they sleepwalked through the first half. At halftime, Illinois had six makes from beyond the arc, but none after the break.

Indiana was forced to make adjustments, so Trayce Jackson-Davis did

Illinois didn’t double-team Jackson-Davis when Indiana came to Champaign in January. The All-American responded with 35 points. In the second matchup, the Illini brought more defenders to Jackson-Davis in the post, waiting a beat before bringing a guard down from the wing. He found other ways to get to the rim, especially in the second half. He scored 26 points on 12-for-19 shooting on a variety of post-ups, drives, putbacks and getting out in transition. He had to work more quickly and get to the rim more aggressively instead of just backing down his defender. Jackson-Davis surpassed his coach Mike Woodson on IU’s all-time scoring list into fifth place.

Meanwhile, Hood-Schifino struggled to find space on the perimeter against Illinois’ defense. Forced to step up with Jackson-Davis not getting as many chances, the freshman point guard made five of his 17 attempts from the field and finished with 13 points and five turnovers.

Race Thompson took advantage of the extra bodies thrown at Jackson-Davis to score 10 points and grab six rebounds, and collectively, Indiana muscled through an ugly offensive game. Miller Kopp provided enough outside shooting, making four of the Hoosiers’ five 3-pointers to fuel IU just enough to win ugly against a quality opponent.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IU basketball vs. Illinois: Trayce Jackson-Davis leads Hoosiers to win


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