Indiana had no problems handling Ball State before its big matchup with North Carolina.
Will Sheehey scored 19 points to help the top-ranked Hoosiers defeat Ball State 101-53 on Sunday.
Jordan Hulls scored 17 points, Cody Zeller scored 15 and Christian Watford had 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers (6-0).
It was Indiana’s largest victory margin in a 21-game series that began in 1934. The Hoosiers’ previous largest victory margin against the Cardinals was 43 points in 1946 and 1983.
Instead of celebrating, the Hoosiers focused on parts of their game, such as allowing 34 points in the second half.
”We got after it in the first half,” Sheehey said. ”Dropped off a little bit in the second half, but thought overall it was a good game.”
Sheehey scored his 19 points in just 19 minutes. He made 8 of 9 shots and had six rebounds.
”Took open shots, teammates found me,” he said. ”That’s it.”
It was Indiana’s first game since winning the Progressive Legends Classic with victories over Georgia and Georgetown in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Now, the Hoosiers can focus on hosting the Tar Heels on Tuesday in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.
”We’re excited about a good opponent,” Hulls said. ”North Carolina, we know they’re a good team, so we’re just going to have to go back and get after the film.”
The Hoosiers already had been averaging 86 points per game before shooting 60 percent from the field against the Cardinals. Indiana scored 21 points off 18 Ball State turnovers.
”Our defensive pressure was a lot better, and we forced some turnovers,” Hulls said. ”That’s when we’re at our best is when we’re running in transition and getting buckets that way.”
Ball State coach Billy Taylor said his team helped Indiana too much.
”A lot of it was our bad offense,” he said. ”We did get some good shots, but our inability to get back in transition … the game had a pretty good tempo to it. I thought we were playing pretty well. We had done some good things, but then we missed some shots, we didn’t run back in transition, and most of the shots they got were in the open floor.”
Majok Majok scored 18 points and Jauwan Scaife added 11 for Ball State. The Cardinals, coming off a 20-point loss to Indiana State, were outrebounded 42-29 and shot just 31 percent from the field.
Indiana’s Maurice Creek scored a season-best nine points in 14 minutes. He averaged 16.4 points as a freshman in 2009-10 before suffering a season-ending broken left kneecap. Thirteen months later, he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right kneecap, ending his season again. He missed last season with a ruptured Achilles’ heel.
”I’m just taking it day by day every day,” Creek said. ”I feel comfortable as time goes on, and I’m getting myself stronger every day. I just want to get a feel for the game again. Every game is going to be different.”
The game was close early, but Indiana went on a run when Sheehey, then Creek, entered the game. A breakaway dunk by Zeller put the Hoosiers up 28-13.
The Hoosiers shot 64.7 percent in the first half to lead 50-19 at the break. Indiana missed four of its first six shots before making 20 of 28 the rest of the half.
The bench scored 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting before the break. Sheehey, a reserve, scored 11 points and Creek scored nine off the bench in the first half. Indiana held the Cardinals to 5-for-25 shooting and forced 10 turnovers before the break.
After establishing its inside game in the first half, Indiana went to the perimeter early in the second half. A 3-pointer and a free throw line jumper by Hulls bumped the lead to 64-23, and a three by Victor Oladipo pushed the lead to 44 with 14:35 to play.
A 3-point play by Austin Etherington in the final minute put the Hoosiers over the century mark, and the remaining fans gave the Hoosiers one of the loudest cheers of the night.
”Too many times, our guys didn’t really understand or appreciate the speed that the ball was going to be attacking them, and too many times we were caught with our heads down, not paying attention instead of being focused and dialed into sprinting back,” Taylor said.