BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Sometimes, if you’re Indiana coach Mike Woodson, you’ve got to keep it simple.
As in, get All-America Trayce Jackson-Davis the darn ball.
So, the Hoosiers (6-0) did.
Four days after he took only seven shots in a blowout win over Jackson State, Jackson-Davis was an offensive wrecking crew against Marshall during Saturday night’s Hoosier Classic 90-79 victory.
The junior forward’s 43 points — making 18 of 24 shots — set a Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall record, passing the 42 Steve Alford scored in 1987.
“I don’t know what record you’re talking about,” Jackson-Davis said during the post-game press conference.
Guard Xavier Johnson, sitting beside him at the media room podium, pointed to the printed box score in front of them.
“You had 43, my man,” Johnson said. “You had 43.”
The record-setting final two points came on a dunk.
“That’s the way to get it, I guess,” Jackson-Davis said.
It easily surpassed his previous career high of 34 set against Michigan State last season. They were 21 points more than he had totaled in his previous two games combined.
It reflected Marshall’s decision to guard him with a single man rather than double and triple teaming him, as most opponents do.
“I don’t think it was necessarily an aggressive thing,” Jackson-Davis said. “It was more of what the defense was giving us. The last two games they doubled a lot, so I kicked out for open shots. This game they played single coverage, so we made them pay.”
Added Johnson: “I have never, ever, seen anybody get 43. I told him, don’t get fooled. They don’t want to double you. You’re an All-American. You’re the best player in America.
“So, I’m like, go get 40, brother. That’s disrespectful to us and to him.”
Jackson Davis added five rebounds, five blocks, four assists and two steals in 37 minutes.
“That was a hell of a game for him,” Woodson said. “He played pretty much the whole game. A few times I asked him if he was okay. He said, ‘I’m good, let me go.’ So, I rode him. We needed all 43 points.”
The Hoosiers did because Marshall (4-2) punished their defense as no team had all season. The Thundering Herd thrived with pick and rolls when they weren’t scoring 21 points off IU’s 15 turnovers. Guard Tavion Kinsey had 21 points. Guard Andrew Taylor added 20.
That reflected coach Dan D’Antoni’s attack defense fueled by nine NBA assistant-coaching seasons with the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers before taking over the Marshall program.
“We knew it wouldn’t be a low-scoring game,” Woodson said. “I’ve coached with Dan. His teams aren’t like that. They score.
“They were beating our coverage. That hadn’t happened. We have to make sure it doesn’t happen again like that.”
IU, which set a season high in points, had won its previous two Hoosier Classic games against Louisiana and Jackson State by 32 and 35 points.
Marshall wasn’t about to make it three straight blowouts.
“We watch film,” Woodson said. “We were prepared. We don’t take anybody lightly.
“I worked with Dan. His offense is as good as it comes. Our coverages weren’t solid early. They were getting behind us. That hasn’t happened.
“We were challenged. As a coach, you want to see what your team is made of.
Besides Jackson-Davis, the Hoosier who stepped up the most was Johnson, who totaled 20 points, seven rebounds, seven assists and five steals. He also hit a pair of three-pointers.
IU lost its offensive way for six first-half minutes and Marshall capitalized with a 17-0 run. The result was a 34-22 deficit that the Hoosiers vaporized with aggressive defense and attacking offense.
“There was no need to panic,” Woodson said.
Still, the Thundering Herd kept exposing Indiana inside for a 42-41 halftime lead, then nearly rallied back from a 13-point, second-half deficit before the Hoosiers finally took charge.
“We played the second half better than the first,” Woodson said. “Our defense was pretty solid in the second half. We got the cushion we needed to win the game.”
A Race Thompson three-pointer and a pair of Jackson-Davis baskets gave IU a 7-6 lead after five minutes.
The Hoosiers briefly led by five before Marshall surged, beating IU again and again inside.
A 17-0 run gave the Thundering Herd a 34-22 lead. Indiana freshman guard Tamar Bates ended the Hoosiers’ six-minute scoreless drought with a three-pointer. Thompson added a dunk. Johnson had a steal and a long pass to Jackson-Davis for a dunk. Marshall’s lead was down to 34-29.
A pair of Johnson free throws with 2:10 left in the half pushed IU back in front 39-38.
The Hoosiers couldn’t hold it, giving up a layup at the buzzer to trail 42-41 at halftime.
In the second half, IU kept getting Jackson-Davis the ball and he kept scoring. When he wasn’t, Miller Kopp was hitting a three-pointer or Johnson was making a basket.
The Hoosiers surged to leads as large as 13.
Marshall wouldn’t go away, closing within three with eight minutes left before a final IU run that included a Parker Stewart three-pointer, a Johnson layup and dive-for-loose- balls defense clinched it.
“It’s something that we were challenged,” Woodson said. “It happens in basketball. As a coach, I want to see who will step up and make plays. We did in the second half.”
Next up is Tuesday night’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge game at Syracuse, which is 3-3 with losses to Colgate, VCU and Auburn.