If Indiana can make it to the Final Four for the first time in over two decades, it will need more performances like the one All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis delivered on Friday.
The Hoosiers (23-11), a No. 4 seed in the Midwest Region, face a stiff challenge to those hopes on Sunday night when they take on No. 5-seeded Miami (26-7) in an NCAA Tournament second-round game at Albany, N.Y.
A lot of attention will undoubtedly be paid to the matchup between Jackson-Davis and Miami’s Norchad Omier, who returned to action on Friday during the Hurricanes’ 63-56 comeback win over Drake.
During a 71-60 win over Kent State in the first round, Jackson-Davis became the first player to have at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five assists in an NCAA Tournament game since blocks became an official NCAA stat in the 1985-86 season, according to OptaSTATS.
“I finally got a little bit of a groove and had a big play, an energy play,” Jackson-Davis said. “Whenever that happens, my teammates try to get me the ball and they put me in great positions.”
Jackson-Davis played 35 minutes, shooting 10 of 17 from the field. Indiana led for most of the game but had its lead cut to 56-48 with 9:16 remaining. Jackson-Davis then delivered a pair of dunks and scored six consecutive points to help the Hoosiers pull away for good.
Indiana held Kent State to 31.9 percent shooting overall.
“They hit some tough shots, and sometimes that’s going to happen, especially in March,” Jackson-Davis said. “But overall, I thought our defensiveness and our connectedness as a group was really good tonight.”
Miami will have to shoot much better than its 30.4 percent output against Drake, which it overcame thanks to a defensive clinic during the final six minutes of the game. The Hurricanes, who advanced to the Elite Eight for the first time in school history last season, put together a 16-1 run to overcome an eight-point deficit.
Nijel Pack led Miami with 21 points and two of the Hurricanes’ seven steals. Three of those takeaways came during that final stretch as Wooga Poplar and Jordan Miller had the other two.
“We were able to pressure them and get some steals and kind of put them on their heels,” Pack said. “We kind of got the ball rolling, and we were able to get to a tie game. Then we had to make a big shot and get a stop.”
But one of the big keys for Miami was having Omier back after a right ankle injury against Duke in last week’s ACC tournament. Omier struggled early but finished with 12 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. The Hurricanes will need more of that from Omier against Jackson-Davis.
“We have spent endless hours in the training room getting treatment,” Omier said. “I wanted to help my teammates. They come out here, work hard. I just wanted to be there, support them, and have their back.”
–Field Level Media