Indiana showed just how good its offense can be when it fires on all cylinders, and the Hoosiers are seeking another such performance Thursday night versus Creighton in a Gavitt Tipoff game.
Coach Tom Crean watched a near-flawless display of basketball for nearly 12 minutes in the second half of Indiana's 102-76 rout of Austin Peay on Monday. The 14th-ranked Hoosiers (2-0) hit 15 straight shots and outscored the Governors 38-12 in that spell to pull away, placing five players in double figures and shooting 66.7 percent for the game.
“It's hard to find much criticism when you make 15 straight shots,” Crean said. “I'm not sure I've ever been a part of 15 straight shots. … I think it came because of really good movement of the ball, and our spacing was much better tonight.”
Indiana finished with 25 assists, its most since totaling 27 against Mount St. Mary's on Dec. 19, 2012. Yogi Ferrell had nine of them to go with 22 points, and the senior – averaging 17.5 points, 7.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 59.1 percent (13 for 22) – is two 3-pointers from joining A.J. Guyton, Jordan Hulls and Tom Coverdale as the only players in school history with 200.
“We spent a lot of time building our mindset of attacking,” Crean said. “We have a play-making offense, right? Make plays for others. The more we do that, it's amazing how it goes back to each other.”
That balanced and efficient offense has helped highly touted freshman Thomas Bryant settle in quickly. The 6-foot-10 center is 9 of 10 from the field while averaging 11.0 points and a team-high 7.5 rebounds, and the Hoosiers have scored 95.0 points per game on 59.5 percent shooting.
Creighton is in its second season since being a high-scoring squad that revolved around 2014 NBA lottery draft pick and current Chicago Bulls forward Doug McDermott but has shown the potential to run a high-efficiency offense similar to Indiana. The Bluejays (2-0) have averaged 98.0 points on 53.7 percent shooting and knocked down 15 3-pointers in a 103-78 victory over Texas-San Antonio on Tuesday.
Isaiah Zierden hit five of those 3s and scored a career-high 24 points in 23 minutes, and coach Greg McDermott was able to let 11 players log at least 10 minutes. Cole Huff added 17 points for Creighton, which has six players averaging at least 9.0 points.
“I'm not sure we have a guy who can get us 20 every night, but we've got several guys that can get us 15 or 18 on any given night and we just have to find out who that is on that particular night,” McDermott said.
While finding the hot hand on offense will be important in Creighton's bid to stop a seven-game losing streak against ranked opponents, McDermott also feels his defense is going to have set and assert itself quickly to slow a Hoosiers team that has scored 37 fast-break points, 58 off turnovers and 82 in the paint.
“I feel like we're getting back but I don't know if there's a lot of urgency to get our defense set once we get back,” the coach noted. “And Thursday night in Bloomington, that's key to the game. They are coming at you as fast as anybody in the country. You have to get back, you have to be ready or you're going to pay for it.”