ASHEVILLE, N.C. — Indiana had a need and Race Thompson filled it nicely in the Hoosiers’ 79-58 blowout victory over Providence on Monday in the first round of the Camping World Maui Invitational.
Worried about rebounding with a new three-guard lineup, Thompson answered the bell for Indiana, scoring a career-high 22 points and grabbing 13 rebounds to lead the Hoosiers past a good Friars team that can contend in the Big East. It was the first career double-double for the redshirt junior from Plymouth, Minn.
“I was flabbergasted at the way they manhandled us on the offensive glass,” Providence coach Ed Cooley said. “Give the Thompson kid credit; he had a career game against us. We pride ourselves on defensive rebounding and they got 15 offensive rebounds against us. That just doesn’t happen to us.
“But give them credit. They played harder than we did. It was just a bad game for the Friars.”
With the win, Indiana advances to the semifinals to take on No. 17-ranked Texas, a 78-76 winner over Davidson in the first round. The game is at 1:30 p.m. ET on ESPN2.
The two other first-round games — North Carolina vs. UNLV and Stanford vs. Alabama — were scheduled for Monday night at the Harrah’s Cherokee Center.
The tournament was moved from Hawaii because of travel concerns around the COVID-19 pandemic.
Indiana (2-0) entered the game as a two-point favorite and was expecting a battle from the big and physical Friars (1-1), but the Hoosiers took control early and never looked back. Thompson had 11 first-half points and Indiana won the rebounding battle by eight. Indiana never trailed after Providence’s first basket of the game.
The Hoosiers also made their free throws, which was an issue during their season-opening win over Tennessee Tech. After shooting 10-for-22 in the opener, they made 7-of-8 in the first half in building a 17-point lead. Thompson was 3-for-4 himself
Indiana struggled from three-point range early, but got a nice boost from Al Durham early in the second half. He hit back-to-back three-pointers right after a mini-run by Providence. Durham, a senior co-captain, finished with 19 points. Providence never got closer than 10 points in the second half.
“Al played with poise and confidence, and Al showed he’s a very capable finisher,” Miller said. “He made some big threes, made his free throws. We need that from him.”
Indiana center Joey Brunk missed his second straight game with a sore back. Miller said he could have played if it was February or March, “but we’re trying to get to February and March,” he said. “I think he’ll be available if things continue to progress in this tournament.”
Miller said the only number on Thompson’s stat line that he didn’t like where the 35 minutes he played. “Too much. Way too much,” said. “We were kind of riding him for a bit there, and then Jerome Hunter wasn’t able to help much with all the fouls. We can’t have that.