BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Xavier Johnson kept watching Marshall's defensive plan and shaking his head. They were single-covering Indiana All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis, and he couldn't believe it.
"I told him, I actually told him, I said, 'Yo, don't get fooled. They don't want to double." You're an All-American. I believe he's the best player in America. So I'm like, 'Go get 40, brother.' That's disrespectful to us and to him as well.''
Jackson-Davis made the Thundering Herd pay for that approach, scoring an Assembly Hall-record 43 points in the Hoosiers' 90-79 victory, their sixth straight win. He broke the record of 42 points set by Hoosier legend Steve Alford against Michigan State in 1987.
It's also the tenth-best scoring night in Indiana history. Jimmy Rayl had 56 points twice and Jackson-Davis' coach, Mike Woodson, had 48 in a game at Illinois for No. 3 on the list.
Jackson-Davis didn't know he had set a record until he was told in his postgame press conference. He was all about attacking the night, taking what the defense gave him. He was 18-for-24 shooting from the field and made 7-of-9 free throws. His previous high was 34 points last season in a February loss to Michigan State.
Jackson-Davis had scored just 11 points in each of the Hoosiers two previous wins in the Hoosier Classic, and even took only seven shots in the last game.
He was looking for more on Saturday night, and it came in bunches. Indiana had 10 dunks on the night, and Jackson-Davis had most of them.
"I don't think it was necessarily an aggressive thing, it was more of what the defense was giving us, and the last two games they have been doubling a lot, so I have been kicking out for open shots,'' Jackson-Davis said. "And this game, they decided to play single coverage, so we made them pay with that.''
In a big way. Indiana shot 57.6 percent from the field and made 8-of-15 threes as well, with four of those coming on Jackson-Davis assists once Marshall finally started to double him.
Despite the record performance, Indiana had its hands full with Marshall, The Herd actually went on a 17-0 run in the first half in just 5 minutes and 16 seconds, going from down five (22-17) to up 12. Jackson-Davis and point guard Xavier Johnson led a furious late-half rally, but Marshall still led 41-40 at the half. It was the first real challenge of the year for the Hoosiers.
Johnson had a huge night, too. He finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, and provided a lot of pressure on the defensive end. It's his first 20-point game as a Hoosier, and the most points he's scored since he had 32 for Pittsburgh last February in a win over Virginia Tech.
"As a coach, you always want to see what your team is made of,'' Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. "I thought our defense picked back up when Xavier went back in there.
"We all watched film. We don't take anybody lightly. We knew they were good. Our coverages weren't solid early on and they were getting behind our defense. That hasn't happened since we've been in this group together.''
Indiana went on an 18-4 run early in the second half to build a lead, but then Marshall made another run at them and cut the lead to three (70-67) with 7:32 to go. But then Indiana scored nine straight to pull away again.
They showed a lot of confidence down the stretch when they had to, something that we haven't see much of around Indiana's basketball team the past few years.
"When I took over this team, they didn't say a whole lot,'' Woodson said. "I told them it was OK to talk some trash to one another. I've got everybody talking now. They talk trash to me now too.
"I'm extremely happy. We knew what kind of game it was going to be. We played better in the second half than we did in the first. We were pretty solid, they made a run but we answered that run.''
Jackson-Davis, who constantly had to fight through double- and triple-teams last year, benefits greatly from having quality three-point shooters on the floor with him now. Transfers Johnson, Miller Kopp and Parker Stewart give this team a completely different look from a year ago.
Jackson-Davis doesn't score 43 in a game last year. Now, it's different.
"I think we space the floor a lot better than we did last year, and we have shooters everywhere,'' Jackson-Davis said. "You can't just double-down, triple-down and sag and claw at the lane as much as we saw last year. They started doing it a little bit in the second half, and then we made them pay with three-point shots.''
Woodson said Jackson-Davis, the 6-foot-9 junior from Greenwood, Ind., continues to improve a passer as well.
"He's grown in that area (as a passer), and to make him look good, we've got to make shots,'' he said. Our shooting was pretty good again.''
Senior forward Race Thompson had eight points and 10 rebounds for Indiana. Stewart had six points on two made three-pointers. Tamar Bates made both of his three-point attempts for six points and Kopp had five, hitting a three and two free throws.
Indiana had just 15 turnovers against Marshall's fast-paced defense, and only six in the second half.
"I'm extremely happy,'' Woodson said. "At the end of the day, we knew what kind of game we were going to have. I knew it wasn't going to be a low-scoring game. (Dan) D'Antoni's teams are not like that. They score the ball.
"I also thought our defense was pretty solid. They hit a few shots coming down the stretch, but for the most part we were pretty solid in the second half. I know they made the one run, but we were able to answer that run and get the cushion that we needed to win the game.''
Indiana is now 6-0 on the season, with all six wins coming at home. They venture out on the road for the first time on Tuesday, taking on Syracuse in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. (Gametime 7 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2)
Indiana's next home game is Saturday Dec. 4, with the Big Ten opener against Nebraska. That tipoff time has been announced now as well. The game will start at Noon ET and will be televised on the Big Ten Network.
Watch Mike Woodson's complete postgame press conference
Related stories on Indiana basketball
- LIVE BLOG: Follow all of the ups and downs of Indiana's 90-79 win over Marshall in our live blog. CLICK HERE
- 1,000-POINT SCORERS: Last week, Trayce Jackson-Davis became. the 54th Indiana player to break the 1,000-point mark. He passed three more guys on Saturday night after his 43-point performance. Here's the complete list. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA SCHEDULE: Here is Indiana's complete 2021-22 basketball schedule, with links to game stories and Tom Brew columns and all TV and gametime information where applicable. CLICK HERE