Holmes erupts for 30 as No. 6 Hoosiers beat Illini 83-72

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Mackenzie Holmes scored 30 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Grace Berger added 18 points to lead No. 6 Indiana to an 83-72 win over No. 21 Illinois on Wednesday.

Holmes hit six of seven shots and scored 14 points in the third quarter as the Hoosiers (17-1, 7-1 Big Ten) shot 68.4% for the period after trailing the Illini (15-4, 5-3) for most of the first half.

“Whether I’m getting hot or whether I miss a few shots (my team) is always looking for me,” Holmes said.

Kendall Bostic scored 10 points during a 13-4 Illinois run that whittled the Indiana lead to seven points before Holmes hit a layup and made a free throw to give the Hoosiers some space with 4:05 left.

Holmes finished 12 of 20 from the floor and recorded her eighth double-double of the season.

“I love watching (Holmes) play,” Bostic said. “I don’t really like playing against her.”

Yarden Garzon added 13 points and Chloe Moore-McNeil pitched in with 12 points and six assists for the Hoosiers.

Genesis Bryant led Illinois with 18 points and Bostic followed with 17 points and 11 rebounds.

Illinois took a 19-10 lead late in the first quarter on Brynn Shoup-Hill’s layup before Garzon and Sydney Parrish hit a pair of 3s during an 8-0 run out of a timeout to pull the Hoosiers within three.

“We responded in the right kind of way,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said. “We didn’t blink, we didn’t panic, we didn’t take bad shots in that stretch.”

Holmes tied the game at 26 with a layup midway through the second quarter as the Illini endured a 5:20 stretch without a bucket. Berger scored six points during a 16-5 to help the Hoosiers take a 37-31 break into halftime.

“If there’s probably any area that (Holmes) has grown the most, it’s been mentally, with understanding she has a responsibility to this team to show up every night,” Moren said.

HOOSIER HISTORY

Moren notched her 189th career win at Indiana to pass Jim Izard for the most in program history.

“She hates to lose way more than she loves to win and I think that’s evident with her passion, on and off the court, for the game (and) for us,” Holmes said. “It’s a really special thing that I’m able to play for her while she gets this milestone.”

BUILDING STEAM

Illinois coach Shauna Green saluted the State Farm Center crowd of 5,583 for creating a rowdy atmosphere and reflected on where the Illini are at two months into her first season.

“(The players) deserve to play in front of this crowd,” Green said. “They deserve to play in that environment.”

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: The Hoosiers opened a stretch of seven of 11 games against ranked foes in convincing fashion after weathering an early storm on the road. The margin for error slims further with matchups against Michigan and first-place Ohio State looming.

Illinois: Green has quickly elevated the Illini in her first season after bringing Makira Cook and her Dayton assistants to Champaign. Illinois is in position to make its first postseason appearance since an NIT berth in 2013 and could make its first NCAA Tournament since 2003.

UP NEXT

Indiana: Visits No. 14 Michigan on Monday.

Illinois: At Northwestern on Sunday.

Michigan State holds on to defeat No. 4 Indiana 83-78

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EAST LANSING, Mich. — Michigan State had four players score in double figures en route to take down previously unbeaten No. 4 Indiana 83-78 on Thursday.

Kamaria McDaniel had 24 points to lead the Spartans, Matilda Ekh and Taiyier Parks each had 18, and DeeDee Hagemann had 15 to go with eight assists.

Mackenzie Holmes had 32 points and 12 rebounds for No. 4 Indiana (12-1, 2-1 Big Ten), while Yarden Garzon added 17 points for the Hoosiers.

Michigan State (9-5, 1-2) led by as many as 11 points in the third quarter before Indiana rallied to tie the score at 60 in the fourth. The Spartans then retook the lead and held off the Hoosiers down the stretch.

The Spartans won their third game in a row despite Indiana hitting 58.5% of its shots from the floor. MSU shot 55.6% from the floor.

The contest was the only regular-season meeting between the teams.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: The Hoosiers will likely slide a few spots in next week’s Top 25, depending on how they do in Sunday’s home game against Nebraska.

Michigan State: The upset should provide a lift to the Spartans going into the holiday weekend.

UP NEXT

Indiana hosts Nebraska on Sunday

Michigan State plays at Northwestern on Monday

No. 10 Arizona tops No. 14 Indiana 89-75 in Vegas clash

Zachary BonDurant-USA TODAY Sports
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LAS VEGAS – Azuolas Tubelis scored 21 points and No. 10 Arizona defeated No. 14 Indiana 89-75 on Saturday night in the Vegas Clash.

The Wildcats (8-1) held off Indiana’s surge after their lead was trimmed to 59-56 on consecutive 3-pointers by the Hoosiers midway through the second half. Arizona responded with three straight 3s to build its cushion back to double digits.

Indiana (8-2) got as close as five late in the game, but the Wildcats’ dominance near the rim kept the Hoosiers at bay. Oumar Ballo’s dunk with 1:42 left added an exclamation point.

“I love the way these guys play and we love getting up and down,” Arizona coach Tommy Lloyd said. “And then there is no panic. It’s fun. It’s fun being in those moments. I like to tell our guys, just let it rip and let’s run our stuff and trust our offense and usually that’ll be the solution in and of itself.”

Ballo had 15 points and 12 rebounds. Pelle Larsson scored 16 and Kerr Kriisa finished with 14.

Arizona also got a huge boost with 17 points from a bench that generally doesn’t provide that much offense.

“It’s huge, because people before the season were talking that we don’t have depth,” Kriisa said. “But I think today our young guys really showed their character.”

Indiana had five players in double figures, led by Race Thompson with 16 points and nine rebounds. Miller Kopp scored 14, Tamar Bates added 13, and Xavier Johnson and Trayce Jackson-Davis each finished with 11.

The Wildcats, who entered leading the nation in field goal percentage (55.2%), including a 64.5% clip from 2-point range, finished 31 of 63 (49.2%), with 21 of 38 (55%) coming from inside the arc.

Arizona finally found its groove from the 3-point line after going 8 of 48 (16.7%) from beyond the arc, hitting 10 of 25 (40%) from long range.

Arizona used a 17-0 run to build a 27-8 lead, but the Hoosiers tightened their defense and battled back to within five. Indiana’s 23-9 spurt late in the first half was sparked by four 3-pointers.

The Wildcats shot 45.5% from the floor before halftime, including 4 of 12 from 3-point range. Indiana was 12 for 37 (32.4%), including 5 of 15 from beyond the arc.

For the game, Arizona outscored the Hoosiers 42-22 in the paint.

“We got down early but I thought we fought. I can’t fault effort,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “I thought we gave great effort, but you’ve got to give a lot of credit to this team. This Arizona team is a good team. I thought the game was won in the paint and they were the better team tonight in the paint.”

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: Both teams created 10 takeaways, but the Hoosiers were outscored 18-6 in points off turnovers.

Arizona: Improved to 8-3 against Top 25 opponents under Lloyd, including 3-0 this season with wins over then-No. 17 San Diego State and then-No. 10 Creighton.

UP NEXT

Indiana: Hosts No. 6 Kansas next Saturday.

Arizona: Hosts Texas A&M Corpus Christi on Tuesday.

Rutgers beats No. 10 Indiana for sixth straight time, 63-48

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PISCATAWAY, N.J. – With the clock winding down in the final minutes, Rutgers fans didn’t hesitate in letting No. 10 Indiana how they felt about the Hoosiers’ rating.

Chants of “Who’s Your Daddy” and “Overrated” were shouted with glee at the Indiana bench after the team was knocked from the unbeaten ranks.

Make no mistake, Rutgers (6-2, 1-0 Big Ten) owns Indiana (7-1, 0-1) on the basketball floor these days.

Freshman guard Derek Simpson scored 10 straight points in a game-deciding run and Rutgers beat Indiana for the sixth time in a row and ninth time in 10 meetings, 63-48 on Saturday.

“As far as Indiana goes, I feel we just know the focus of this team,” said Rutgers senior Caleb McConnell, who had 16 points and 10 rebounds. “It gives us an advantage because we had beaten them five times in a row. We went in trying to execute our game plan and we did it again.”

Simpson scored all 14 of his points in the second half as Rutgers made coach Mike Woodson’s first visit to “The Banks” unpleasant.

“We got to make shots from the perimeter,” said Woodson, whose team shot 30.4% from the field, including 6 of 21 from long range. “But we just got out-toughed tonight. I thought, I mean, from the beginning to the end, I mean, we couldn’t rebound the basketball with him. I thought that was the difference in the ballgame and that was the cushion that they needed.”

Miller Kopp scored a season-high 21 points for Indiana . Star forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who faced a packed in defense, was held to 13 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out late.

Jackson-Davis said Indiana just didn’t play well.

“I don’t necessarily say that it’s a bad matchup for us because I think defensively we’re still good,” he said. “But at the same time, our offense just wasn’t clicking tonight.”

The win was coach Steve Pikiell’s 14th over a ranked team since taking over a struggling Rutgers’ program in 2016-17. As usual, defense was at the center of its win.

The Hoosiers’ point total was a season low. They were averaging 87.1 points and were coming off a win over North Carolina.

Indiana played poorly in the first half in falling behind 31-24. The Hoosiers opened the final 20 minutes with a 13-4 spurt, taking two-point leads on baskets by Xavier Johnson and Kopp.

McConnell hit a 3-pointer to put Rutgers ahead for good and then Simpson took over, hitting a layup, a jumper, a 3-pointer and a big scoop shot for a 47-37 lead. His final point in the run came when Johnson hit him in the face in the offensive zone and a flagrant foul was eventually called. He made 1 of 2 free throws.

“I still have have much more to do and I am going to keep working and we’re going to keep working as a team,” Simpson said. “It was a fun game, and it really got loud. My ears are still ringing right now.”

MULCAHY RETURNS

Rutgers senior starting guard Paul Mulcahy returned to the lineup after missing four games with a shoulder injury. He came off the bench early in the first half and played almost 24 minutes, scoring six points and handing out four assists.

MISSING

Indiana starting guard Jalen Hood-Schifino did not play because of a back problem. He was averaging 8.7 points. Starting forward Race Thompson, who was averaging 7.3 points, was scoreless on 0 for 4 shooting.

BIG PICTURE

Indiana: This was poor performance by the Hoosiers. They are bound to take a tumble.

Rutgers: This was a big win for Rutgers, which was coming off a road loss at Miami. They are 6-0 at home.

UP NEXT

Indiana: Conference home opener against Nebraska on Wednesday.

Rutgers: At No. 25 Ohio State on Thursday.

Holmes, Berger lead No. 12 Indiana past No. 11 Tennessee

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Mackenzie Holmes and Grace Berger had double-doubles, five Indiana players scored in double figures, and the No. 12 Hoosiers defeated No. 11 Tennessee 79-67 on Monday night.

Holmes had 16 points and 10 rebounds, and Berger added 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists for the Hoosiers (3-0). Tennessee-native Chloe Moore-McNeil had 15 points, five assists and three steals; Sydney Parrish had 12 points, five assists and four rebounds off the bench; and Sara Scalia scored 16.

Trailing 57-49 entering the fourth quarter, the Lady Vols continued chipping away at an Indiana lead that had peaked at 13 points. Rickea Jackson hit a 3-pointer and Jasmine Franklin added a three-point play to help get Tennessee within 61-57. The Hoosiers responded with a closing 18-10 run that sealed the victory in a game they had led since the middle of the first quarter.

Jasmine Powell, a 5-foot-6 guard, had 16 points, 10 rebounds and four assists for the Lady Vols (1-2). Jackson finished with 17 points, six rebounds and four assists, and Tamari Key had 14 points.

Moore-McNeil scored five points on a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws early in the second quarter and her steal helped set up a 3-pointer by Scalia that gave the Hoosiers a 30-17 lead. Tennessee closed to within 35-29, but the Hoosiers finished with a layup from Holmes and a Parrish 3-pointer for a 40-29 lead at the break.

Tennessee’s challenging schedule features games vs. seven teams ranked in the preseason polls and potential matchups in two more games next week at the Women’s Battle 4 Atlantis. The Lady Vols have lost to Indiana and No. 8 Ohio State.

Focused Xavier Johnson could be X-factor for No. 13 Hoosiers

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Xavier Johnson faced the stark reality his basketball days could be over when an April police chase ended in his arrest in a Bloomington parking lot.

Indiana Hoosiers coach Mike Woodson was willing to forgive his starting point guard if he agreed to some conditions. Johnson’s car couldn’t be on campus, he needed to follow all the team rules and he had to be fully committed to winning games.

Six months later, a revitalized and contrite Johnson finds himself preparing for a fifth college season, this time as the X-factor Indiana needs to increase its Assembly Hall banner collection.

“It just seemed like I hit a big-time wall,” Johnson said, explaining what happened that April night. “I thought my career was over, honestly. I’m mad at myself for doing something like that, but I mean I’m glad God gave me a second chance to come back and play what I love to do.”

He might not be with No. 13 Indiana had he been playing for Woodson’s coach, Bob Knight, who was known as much for being a strict disciplinarian as he was for his volatile public outbursts.

But Woodson, whose coaching career spanned decades in the NBA, understood the challenges Johnson faced last season and took a different tack.

After transferring from Pittsburgh and winning the starting job, Johnson struggled with turnovers, decision-making and, at times, was a non-factor in the scoring column, too. The deaths of his uncle and grandfather took an emotional toll on the Virginia native and in February, Johnson was one of five players suspended by Woodson for “curfew violations.”

Johnson appeared to be turning his life around after a strong finishing run to help Indiana end a six-year NCAA Tournament drought, but then came the arrest.

According to the police report, Johnson was clocked going 90 mph in a 40 mph zone, did not stop when the officer turned on his siren and lights, disregarded a stop sign in the apartment complex and then attempted to switch seats with another student in the car. He was charged with resisting law enforcement with a vehicle and reckless driving, a felony.

Woodson’s response was blunt.

“He doesn’t have a vehicle anymore, I took that away from him,” he said. “If that’s punishment, it’s punishment and I don’t mean that in a negative way. We’re just trying to do the things necessary to help us win basketball games, and I think he’s made a major step in that direction.”

Johnson’s parents sided with Woodson and now Johnson finds himself thriving in a whole new world, amid expectations of winning a Big Ten title and chasing the school’s sixth national title.

And Johnson could play a key role. In the final 10 games last season, he averaged 16.6 points, 6.6 assists and 4 rebounds as the Hoosiers played their way off the bubble and into the tourney.

Teammates say he’s been a different player since returning to campus this summer.

“He’s definitely taken a big-time step in leadership and just kind of taking that role as being more vocal,” third-year guard Trey Galloway said. “I think he’s done a great job of being more vocal with the younger guys and kind of bringing them along.”

Big Ten preseason player of the year Trayce Jackson-Davis likes the early returns, too.

He came back for his fourth season after his NBA workouts were halted following a positive COVID-19 test. Nobody has more at stake this season than Jackson-Davis, who is trying to become the first Indiana player with 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds.

And to ensure there are no distractions, he asked Woodson to institute a zero-tolerance drug policy.

“It’s really just to hold everyone accountable,” Jackson-Davis said. “There’s really nothing else to be said about it. I know our guys are going to do the right thing. When the season is going, we’re going to be locked in and ready to go because we have really big aspirations.”

That includes Johnson, who has never played on a team favored to win a conference crown.

But with the Woodson discussions complete, an August plea agreement ending his court case and a new season set to tip Nov. 7 against Morehead State, Johnson is ready to turn the page and make use of his second chance.

“He (Woodson) was just like, `If you want to play here, you either have no car or you can go somewhere else,”‘ Johnson said. “I really didn’t care about my car. I love to play basketball and that’s what I came here to do. That and get my education.”