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Trayce Jackson-Davis guides Indiana to NCAA Tournament First Four win over Wyoming

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DAYTON, Ohio – The Indiana men’s basketball team took their midnight flight to Portland.

Behind an outstanding night from Trayce Jackson-Davis, No. 12 seed Indiana secured a 66-58 victory against Wyoming in the First Four on Tuesday night, sending the Hoosiers to the round of 64. They will face Saint Mary’s in Portland, Oregon, on Thursday night.

Here are three reasons the Hoosiers won:

Jackson-Davis guides IU through a nervous start

For much of the first half, he was reminded that these Hoosiers (21-13) hadn’t played a minute in the NCAA Tournament in any of their careers.

IU moved too quickly on offense, cutting shots and forcing drives. Many of the Hoosiers’ mistakes felt like small margins: layups that went wide of the rim, second chances wasted, turnovers that didn’t lead to breakaways but added up. Despite forcing 13 Wyoming turnovers, Indiana led by just five at halftime.

But they did it because of that excellent defense, and because of that excellent Jackson-Davis, for whom the Cowboys didn’t have a good answer.

The Indiana Hoosiers bench reacts to play in the second period against the Wyoming Cowboys during the First Four.

Stud forward Graham Ike couldn’t attack him on offense, missing five of his six shots in the first half before going to the bench with two fouls. Hunter Thompson, the Wyoming player most often guarding Jackson-Davis at the other end, fared worse. He picked up three fouls in the first 20 minutes and barely stopped IU’s all-conference big man.

At halftime, IU led 30-25 largely thanks to 14 points from Jackson-Davis. He stabilized his team when it was needed most.

He finished with a game-high 29 points.

Jordan Geronimo on the rise

After he came out of Saturday’s Big Ten tournament semifinal loss to Iowa with an apparent non-contact knee injury, there was some question as to whether Jordan Geronimo would be available Tuesday.

It was more than available. It changed the game.

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NCAA Tournament 2022: Indiana’s Jordan Geronimo is playing above the rim

Getting up for dunks, grabbing rebounds, hitting 3-pointers on the corners and at one point literally taking the ball out of Hunter Maldonado’s hands: Geronimo impacted the game throughout Tuesday’s scoring.

The Hoosiers needed him. Foul troubles blighted rotations elsewhere, alternately affecting Race Thompson, Trey Galloway and others. The big Wyoming bodies gave Mike Woodson’s team trouble. His bench was hot and cold, as has often been the case this season.

But Geronimo only knew one temperature. He finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, the best game of his, either statistically or impressively, in a long time.

Maldonado good, but not good enough

The Wyoming playmaker was as advertised at times Tuesday, pushing defenders back and taking advantage of favorable matchups on his way to a team-high 21 points.

He was also too prone to mistakes, never quite resolving the shifting defensive looks Woodson threw at him. IU’s coach used half a dozen different players to protect Maldonado, speeding him up, slowing him down and forcing him to turn a season-high 10 turnovers.

That led to broader issues with the draws for the Cowboys, who never found an offensive rhythm because of it. As a result, they led for less than four and a half minutes, Indiana pulling away late through Jackson-Davis and the free throw line.

Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: Indiana beats Wyoming in March Madness First Four game

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