Cody Zeller dominated inside. Victor Oladipo had another solid all-around game, and Christian Watford made three more 3-pointers. There was a little defense, too.
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On nights like these, it’s easy to see why Indiana is No. 1.
Watford scored 21 points, Zeller had 19 points and 19 rebounds, and the top-ranked Hoosiers routed Central Connecticut State 100-69 on Saturday.
”I think we’re playing well, but again I don’t think we’ve even scratched the surface on how good we can be at both ends of the floor,” said Oladipo, who had 15 points and held potent scorer Kyle Vinales in check. ”I think if we keep (getting better), we’ll continue to play at a high level.”
Indiana is playing pretty well right now, off to a 9-0 start for the second straight season. The Hoosiers have won 13 straight at Assembly Hall and 27 in a row at home against non-conference foes. This was their third-most lopsided victory of the season, and they seem to be getting more dominant with each game.
Indiana shot 54.2 percent from the field while holding the Blue Devils (4-4) to just 33.3 percent. Vinales came in leading the country at 25.9 points per game, but was 3 for 15 against the Hoosiers, including an 0-for-4 performance from 3-point range. The sophomore finished with seven points, thanks primarily to Oladipo, who does a lot more than just play defense.
He also had nine rebounds, five steals, three blocks, two assists and repeatedly whipped the crowd into a frenzy with highlight-reel dunks and big plays.
Oladipo’s effort was just one part of a balanced effort for the Hoosiers. Jordan Hulls had 10 points and four assists. Yogi Ferrell finished with eight points, six assists and two steals. Reserve Will Sheehey had 12 points and six rebounds.
”We came out with a lot of energy tonight, which is always big for us,” Zeller said. ”You can never come out slow. Like Vic says, it’s back to the lab, and find out where we messed up and keep on getting better.”
The matchup was supposed to be an intriguing shootout between two strong offensive teams.
Instead, Indiana took advantage of one full week to prepare for the game and took control during one six-minute stretch in the first half.
The Hoosiers had only two real concerns all night.
They lost sophomore forward Austin Etherington with a left knee injury that coach Tom Crean described as ”significant” even before the official diagnosis was in.
Etherington was surrounded by his teammates and coaches as he was lifted onto a stretcher and then wheeled off the court late in the first half. It’s another blow for a team that is still missing senior forward Derek Elston (knee surgery) and isn’t sure how quickly freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin will get up to speed after serving the last game of a nine-game suspension imposed by the NCAA.
”I know they were really concerned about their friend and teammate,” Crean said, referring to Etherington’s injury. ”It was important they continued to play well and they did.”
The other problem was defending Matt Hunter, who was just 2 of 18 from 3-point range coming into the game. This time, Hunter connected on 6 of 11 from beyond the arc, 13 of 25 overall and finished with 40 points – becoming the first player from outside the Big Ten to score that many points in one game at Assembly Hall. Two Michigan State players – Shawn Respert in 1995 and Terry Furlow in 1976 – are the only other visitors to score 40 at Indiana.
”When you have the leading scorer coming in and you’re Indiana, you’re going to make sure he doesn’t get anything, OK?” Blue Devils coach Howie Dickenman said. ”He really had some bad looks, got a little frustrated, took a couple of questionable shots. But his roommate from Detroit, Hunter, threw in 40. We never thought he’d get 40, we thought Kyle might get 40.”
Central Connecticut State led only once – after the first basket – and hung around for about six minutes.
Then the Hoosiers dominated.
Ferrell started the decisive 22-2 run with a spinning 2-footer, Hulls followed with a 3, Zeller posted up for a layup, Maurice Creek hit another 3 and Zeller posted up for another layup. Oladipo closed the run three minutes later with a thunderous one-handed dunk that he turned into a three-point play, giving Indiana a 37-16 lead.
”Bottom line is there’s a lot of room for improvement in our team, that will never go away,” Crean said. ”We can get better, we will get better.”