Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis pulls out of NBA draft, will return

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times/USA TODAY NETWORK
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The Indiana Hoosiers’ top player, Trayce Jackson-Davis, will be on the court next season after he withdrew from the NBA draft.

Jackson-Davis still has two years of eligibility remaining and will begin his senior season ranked No. 15 on the school’s career scoring list with 1,565 points.

The 6-foot-9 forward was a preseason All-American last fall, finished sixth in the Big Ten in scoring at 18.3 points per game and rebounding with 8.1 while leading the Hoosiers to a 21-14 mark and an NCAA Tournament appearance in coach Mike Woodson’s first season as coach.

Jackson-Davis was a second team all-Big Ten selection by the coaches and media.

He’s also ninth on Indiana’s career list in rebounds (797), and seventh in blocks (178).

“I am looking forward to returning to Indiana to be with my coaches and teammates and building off of what we accomplished at the end of the season,” Jackson-Davis said in a statement released by the athletic department. “There are goals I have for our team and for myself individually on the court, but at the end of next year more importantly, I will be proud to say I am a graduate of IU.”

Former Hoosiers favorite Jordan Hulls joining Indiana staff

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana coach Mike Woodson is bringing back fan-favorite Jordan Hulls as the Hoosiers’ team and recruiting coordinator.

Hulls, who attended high school at nearby Bloomington South, scored 1,318 career points at Indiana and was part of the team that upset No. 1 Kentucky on Christian Watford’s buzzer-beating 3-pointer in 2010 as well as the 2013 Indiana team that won the school’s first Big Ten outright title in 2013.

He will rejoin the program when he completes his ninth professional season. Hulls has been playing in Germany since 2020.

“It’s hard to put into words what this opportunity means to me and my family,” Hulls said in a statement released by the athletic department. “Indiana University has been a part of me my whole life and I couldn’t be more excited to come home and work with coach Woodson, the entire staff, and our players in the program.”

Hulls won the National Senior Class Award in 2013 and the 2009 IndyStar Mr. Basketball Award after leading Bloomington South to a 26-0 record and the Class 4A state title.

Woodson also promoted Steven Surface to director of basketball operations. Surface spent the past six seasons in the program, first as an administrative intern, then as a graduate assistant for basketball operations, and finally as a senior staff assistant and operations analyst.

Bueckers scores 15; UConn beats Indiana to reach Elite 8

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. — Paige Bueckers and Christyn Williams each scored 15 points to lead a balanced UConn offense in a 75-58 win over Indiana on Saturday to advance the Huskies into their 16th consecutive regional final.

Olivia Nelson-Ododa had a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds for Connecticut (28-5), which outscored the Hoosiers 46-32 in the paint.

Azzi Fudd added 13 points for the Huskies, who face top-seeded North Carolina State on Monday night in an attempt to earn a 14th straight trip to the Final Four.

Ali Patberg, in her seventh year of college basketball thanks to transfer and COVID-19 rules, had 16 points for the third-seeded Hoosiers, who finish their season at 24-9. Grace Berger had 13 points and Mackenzie Holmes added 12 for Indiana.

UConn led 37-33 at the half, but opened the second half with a 16-0 run to take control of the game.

Williams’ layup put UConn up by double digits for the first time at 44-33. Aaliyah Edwards’ free throw capped the run and gave the Huskies their first 20-point advantage at 53-33.

Indiana outscored UConn 13-6 to close the quarter and cut the deficit to 11 midway through the fourth quarter on a basket by Holmes.

But Bueckers responded at the other end and the Hoosiers could not close the gap any further.

Indiana started strong. Holmes hit a turnaround in the lane for the first basket and the Hoosiers opened on an 8-2 run.

The Huskies got an early scare when Bueckers went down on a steal attempt and grabbed her surgically repaired left knee. She ran to the bench and had it worked on by trainers, but returned for the start of the second quarter. She played 33 minutes in her eighth game back from the injury that kept her out more than two months.

The Huskies closed the first quarter on an 8-0 run. A driving layup and free throw by Williams gave UConn its first lead at 19-18 and her blocked shot just before the buzzer preserved a 21-18 lead.

UConn extended the lead to nine points on Fudd’s third 3-pointer of the half.

Indiana benefited from a bizarre play that ended the second quarter Edwards tossed a missed layup from Holmes out of bounds, apparently believing the clock had expired. But that gave the Hoosiers the ball back with 1.2 seconds left and a 3-pointer by Aleksa Gulbe at the halftime buzzer sent the teams to the locker rooms with UConn leading 37-33.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: At 24-9, finished a win shy of the program record. The No. 3 seed was the highest in program history in the NCAA Tournament and the Hoosiers advanced to their first Elite Eight last season.

UConn: The Huskies have not given up 60 points since Feb. 11, when they beat DePaul 84-60. They had held their previous 10 opponents to 51 points or fewer, giving up 40 points or fewer in seven of those games.

UP NEXT

UConn will face North Carolina State Monday night in the regional final.

Big Ten places four teams in women’s Sweet 16 again

NCAA BASKETBALL: MAR 20 Div I Womens Championship - Second Round - Maryland v Florida Gulf Coast
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It has been seven years since the Big Ten had a team reach the Final Four and more than two decades since the conference had a national champion in women’s basketball.

With the conference having four teams in the Sweet 16 for a second consecutive year, those streaks could be ending soon.

Michigan, Indiana, Ohio State and Maryland are all playing in the regional semifinals this weekend – matching the ACC for most teams left in the NCAA Tournament.

All four coaches credit the toughness of the conference as one of the main reasons for the success they’ve had so far on the game’s biggest stage.

“I think the biggest thing is we prepare each other for these moments,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “It’s so good and so competitive that we’re prepared for these games. The Big Ten prepares us for all these opponents we’re seeing right now.”

Indiana reached the regional final last season and has most of its team back from that run. The Hoosiers face UConn on Saturday in the Sweet 16.

Maryland, which faces Stanford on Friday, was the last team from the Big Ten to reach the Final Four, doing so in 2014. Coach Brenda Frese knows how important it can be to have made it to the regionals before.

“You have to gain that experience to get to the Sweet 16s and get to an Elite Eight like Indiana last year,” Frese said. “Your roster has to get that experience. That’s the cool thing to see now back-to-back years four teams making it to the Sweet 16. Teams are gaining a ton of experience to understand these rounds and how difficult it is.”

Michigan, which faces South Dakota on Saturday, is playing in its second straight Sweet 16 after never making it that far before.

“I’ve said it since I got here, the quote Geno (Auriemma) gave me 20 years ago. It’s easy to get there, the hard part is staying there,” Wolverines coach Kim Barnes Arico said. “When you have a league that has back-to-back four teams in the Sweet 16, it really speaks to you staying there and having arrived.”

All of the coaches are rooting for each other to succeed. As soon as the other Big Ten schools advanced, Frese tweeted out her excitement for them.

“Brenda has been a real champion of this and is 100% right,” Ohio State coach Kevin McGuff said. “A lot of the other leagues out there have TV networks that trumpet their teams. We have to similarly as coaches promoting how good we are. We know how good we are. Everyone knows it as well.”

The sixth-seeded Buckeyes will face Texas on Friday

With the four women’s teams advancing to the Sweet 16 and a couple of Big Ten men’s teams still playing also, it will be a busy next few days for Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren. He plans to try to take in as many of the games as he possibly can in person while watching others on his phone.

He believes his conference is really close to breaking its national semifinals drought.

“We are on the forefront of putting teams in the Final Four on a regular basis and winning national championships,” Warren said in a phone interview from the airport. “I look forward to seeing them go into the Final Four and look forward to the day when I see when the national championship trophy is handed to them.”

Warren also made changes in the conference office this season, hiring Megan Kahn in November to be the conference’s Vice President of Women’s Basketball.

“That showed the true commitment from Kevin Warren, our commissioner, who is passionate about women’s hoops,” Moren said. “Him hiring her and really making this a position exclusive for women’s basketball is a huge deal.”

Warren said creating that position was one of his top goals when he got hired.

“I had a list of transition initiatives and that was a top one,” he said. “The first year we had to deal with COVID, so it got delayed.”

He also has spent the last two years developing relationships with many of the coaches and players. He went to all of the women’s games at the conference tournament and constantly texts them before and after games.

“They know I’m there. They know I can’t be in two places at once or I’d be there,” he said. “I’ll see Indiana this weekend. Hopefully all four of our teams win, so I can figure out where to go.”

Berger’s late layup sends Indiana past Princeton 56-55

Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Grace Berger scored the last of her 15 points on a spinning, tiebreaking layup with 28.2 seconds left and Nicole Cardano-Hillary added 12 points Monday night help to help third-seeded Indiana beat 11th-seed Princeton 56-55 and reach its second straight Sweet 16.

Ali Patberg sealed the win in her home finale with a steal with 3.8 seconds left and Aleksa Gulbe closed it out with two free throws.

The Hoosiers (24-8) have won five of their last six and swept the first two NCAA Tournament games they’ve ever hosted – in front of a loud, large crowd. Indiana also has tied its single-season school record for wins.

Afterward the Hoosiers celebrated by jogging into the student section as the band played the school fight song and then lifted coach Teri Moren after the alma mater played. Indiana now faces either second-seeded UConn or seventh-seeded UCF on Saturday in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

The Hoosiers advanced on a night Princeton (25-5) was trying to post a tourney record ninth victory by a double-digit seed. Instead, the Tigers had their 18-game winning streak snapped while shooting 32.8% from the field and three of its top players got into early foul trouble.

Julia Cunningham and Grace Stone each scored 13 to lead Princeton. Ivy League player of the year Abby Meyers had 11 points, going just 3 of 14 from the field and missing her first six 3-point attempts before making her last as the buzzer sounded.

The Ivy League tourney champs sure made it tough on Indiana.

After trailing 39-29 at halftime, the Tigers stingy defense limited Indiana to just three baskets in the third quarter as they pulled within 45-42.

And when Ellie Mitchell capped an 8-0 run early in the fourth with a layup at the 5:19 mark, Princeton led 50-49.

Cardona-Hillary’s layup gave Indiana the lead, but Princeton answered with two free throws from Meyers with 1:12 to go.

Berger tied the score by making 1 of 2 free throws with 58.1 seconds left and then broke the tie with her layup on a play called during a timeout before Gulbe closed it out.

BIG PICTURE

Princeton: Women’s basketball fans need to pay attention to what coach Carla Berube is building. They Tigers already have one of the nation’s stingiest defenses, balanced scoring and play with discipline that’s hard to match. It’s why they beat Southeastern Conference tourney champ Kentucky on Saturday and gave the Big Ten tourney runner-up everything it could handle Monday. And only one key player, Meyers, is a senior.

Indiana: The Hoosiers survived in front of the third-largest crowd in school history, 9,627. And they needed all the energy the crowd could muster. But after making the deepest tourney run in school history last year, to the Elite Eight, and hosting NCAA tourney games for the first time, Indiana wasn’t going to let any foe to deter it from making another Sweet 16 run.

UP NEXT

Indiana faces either second-seeded UConn or seventh-seeded UCF on Saturday in Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s routs No. 12 Indiana 82-53

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PORTLAND, Ore. — Logan Johnson scored 20 points and fifth-seeded Saint Mary’s took advantage of No. 12 seed Indiana’s grueling recent schedule, rolling to an 82-53 victory in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Thursday.

Tommy Kuhse added 19 points and six assists for the Gaels (26-7), the only team to beat Gonzaga in the West Coast Conference this season. Saint Mary’s will play the winner of the East Region’s late game between No. 4 seed UCLA and 13th-seeded Akron.

Trayce Jackson-Davis had 12 points for Indiana (21-14), which arrived in Portland on Wednesday morning after an all-nighter because of flight delays from Dayton following the First Four. The Hoosiers won their first tournament game since 2016 by beating Wyoming 66-58 on Tuesday night.

Thursday’s game was Indiana’s fifth in seven days. Saint Mary’s came in fresh from a 10-day layoff after falling to the Bulldogs in the WCC Tournament title game.

Saint Mary’s pulled away late in the first half and led by as many as 34 points – and the overtaxed Hoosiers couldn’t catch up.

The Gaels, ranked No. 19 in last AP Top 25, earned their highest seed ever in 11 NCAA Tournament appearances. Their best finish in the tournament came in 2010, when they went to the Sweet 16.

Saint Mary’s stature in the tournament was no doubt boosted by its 67-57 win at home over No. 1 Gonzaga on Feb. 26.

Indiana, which has won five NCAA championships, was making its 40th tournament appearance.

At least at the start, Indiana wasn’t showing any fatigue. The Hoosiers had a narrow lead for much of the half until Alex Ducas’ 3-pointer that put Saint Mary’s in front 25-21. The Gaels extended the lead to 33-26 on another Ducas 3.

Saint Mary’s ground Indiana down and led 40-28 at the half. Ducas, a junior from Australia, finished with 13 points.

The Gaels stretched the lead to 55-31 in the second half on Kuhse’s 3-pointer.

A LITTLE HELP?

When the ball got stuck between the backboard and the shot clock early in the second half, the players tried with no success to get it free. A ref even stood on a folding chair to try and poke it free, to no avail.

Enter Indiana’s resourceful cheer squad: A cheerleader lofted by a male counterpart was able to rescue the ball.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: The only previous meeting against Saint Mary’s was way back in 1957. The Hoosiers won, 79-66 in Bloomington. … Jackson-Davis averaged 18.4 points and 8.2 rebounds.

Saint Mary’s: Bennett, in his 21st season with the Gaels, was named the WCC Coach of the Year. He’s won the honor four times. But the latest comes after turning around a team that struggled last season to finish 14-10. … Saint Mary’s wore warmup jerseys that read “No Quit.”

UP NEXT

The winner will play the winner of Thursday’s late game in Portland between UCLA and Akron on Saturday.