By Pete DiPrimio

ALBANY, N.Y. –Race Thompson refused to lose. He would push till his tank hit empty. He said it before Indiana’s NCAA tourney opener, proved it during, celebrated after.

One and done matters when you have a guy who cares like Thompson, and, boy, did this senior forward care during Friday night’s 71-60 Midwest Regional victory over Kent State.

Despite multiple bumps and bruises, Thompson scored, rebounded, ran the floor, and led by full-throttle example to total 20 points (8-for-11 shooting, 2-for-3 on three-pointers) and nine rebounds.

“Race stepped up,” associate head coach Yasir Rosemond told Voice of the Hoosiers Don Fischer during the post-game radio show. “He hears a lot of stuff. He’s been around a long time. For him to have a game like this, especially at this time of year, is great.”

So was his willingness to sacrifice his body.

“His knee hurts,” Rosemond told Fischer. “His thigh hurts. He has a lot going on. He really battles.”

When Thompson wasn’t dominating, teammate Trayce Jackson-Davis was with 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and an IU NCAA tourney-record five blocks. It was his 50th career double-double.

“Just add it to the list of stuff he’s done,” Rosemond told Fischer. “Coach tells him all the time, he could have played better. Tonight, I think he could have. He’s our leader, our guy. We ride him. As Trayce goes, we go.”

Then there was senior forward Miller Kopp, who had 13 points with three three-pointers and five rebounds.

“Coach has been telling him — shoot the ball,” Rosemond said. “Don’t think about it. Shoot the ball. We’ve been telling him that all year.

“He shoots a great percentage, so why not get a couple more shots up? We need him to contribute.”

The Golden Flashes (28-7) had no answer.

“Our guys came to play,” Rosemond told Fischer. “We were great defensively. We made plays. We dug plays. It was our defense.”

The fourth-seeded Hoosiers (23-11) advanced to a Sunday night matchup with fifth-seeded Miami (26-7), which moved on with a 63-56 win over Drake Friday night.

“Miami is really good,” Rosemond told Fischer. “They have good guards. We’ll be prepared.”

IU disrupted Kent State into offensive futility. Indiana blocked shots, altered shots so that even Golden Flashes layups became bad ideas. They shot just 32 percent from the field.

“We committed to 40 minutes,” head coach Mike Woodson said in a post-game TV interview. “(Kent State) can really score and we held them to 60 points. Our defense was really good.”

Offensively, the Hoosiers attacked the paint relentlessly.

“We wanted to dominate on the inside,” Rosemond told Fischer. “We knew Kent State was a little thin inside. We wanted to attack with what our strengths were.”

Jackson-Davis set an instant shot-blocking tone to spark an 8-2 Hoosier start. Kent State rallied for a 9-8 lead. Thompson hit his first four shots for 10 points to help push IU ahead 17-9.

A 9-0 edge in fast-break points kept the Hoosiers in the lead, although the Golden Flashes got within three and then two. Jackson-Davis and Galloway shut that down with inside baskets. Jackson-Davis added a pair of free throws. IU led 35-27 at halftime.

Thompson had 13 points and four rebounds. Jackson-Davis had 10 and seven.

With the Hoosiers holding Kent State to 26.3-percent shooting, Woodson’s main second-half goal was to get the offense going.

The result — IU scored 10 points in less than four minutes to surge ahead 45-31.

The Hoosiers cranked up the defense to match the offense. Kopp hit a three-pointer. Thompson dunked. IU led 52-37.

Then Jackson-Davis took over with dunks and layups to maintain IU’s double-digit advantage. A Kopp three-point play made it a 65-50 score. Jackson-Davis continued his onslaught (12 points in five minutes) to ensure there would be no Kent State comeback.

Now IU is 40 minutes away from its first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2016.

“We need (Trey Galloway) to contribute,” Rosemond told Fischer. “We need some of these other guys to contribute. If we want to advance, we need other guys to play well.”

Courtesy of IU  and used with permission.