BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) They were admittedly a bit testy the past couple of days, especially in practice, where the Indiana Hoosiers got after each other and tried to distance themselves from such an embarrassing loss.
Three days after being taken apart 92-72 by Fort Wayne at home, coach Archie Miller’s team bounced back with a cathartic 87-59 rout of visiting Tennessee Tech on Thursday.
”It’s been a tough couple of days, not just for our players but our program,” the first-year Indiana coach said.
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What did he learn about his enigmatic Hoosiers (7-6), who have lost five games by double digits but also won four by at least the same margin?
”I think I’m going to have to be a raving lunatic every day, regardless of whether you win by 30 or you lose by 30. It’s got to be the same,” Miller said. ”I’m probably going to have a lot of headaches over the next couple of months.”
Senior point guard Josh Newkirk ensured Indiana wouldn’t suffer another letdown as he scored a season-high 20 points on 6-of-9 shooting and added six assists and four rebounds.
”It was very important,” Newkirk said of how his team played after being blown out by a smaller in-state school that hit 17 3-pointers. ”We had to respond.”
Robert Johnson added 12 and Freddie McSwain Jr. 10 as 11 Hoosiers contributed points.
Tennessee Tech (8-5) was outscored 49-33 in the second half.
”They responded from the game against Fort Wayne,” said Tennessee Tech coach Steve Payne. ”They were more like the team that beat Notre Dame and played Duke (with) effort. That is what you want your team to do.”
Kajon Mack led the Golden Eagles with 14 points.
”I thought their energy defensively was outstanding,” Payne said of the Hoosiers.
Tennessee Tech missed seven of eight shots to fall behind 25-15. The Golden Eagles managed to cut the deficit to 27-24 with a 9-2 run, but Indiana answered with an 11-2 spurt as Newkirk scored four and Johnson sank a 3-pointer for a 38-26 Hoosiers lead at halftime.
Tennessee Tech: Missed an opportunity for its best start since opening 9-4 in 2001-02. The Golden Eagles also dropped to 1-5 in away games. Tennessee Tech has never defeated Indiana in four meetings nor has it knocked off a Power Five conference opponent since Oregon State on Dec. 16, 2007.
Indiana: One home win against an underdog won’t erase the memory of losing so badly to Fort Wayne, but it’s a start. The Hoosiers needed a confidence boost, especially when considering they have only one non-conference game remaining before the start of Big Ten play.
Tennessee Tech: Aleksa Jugovic, the team’s leading scorer this season, managed just seven points on 2-of-6 shooting. He entered with a 14.3-point average. . The Golden Eagles shot just 24 of 64 (37.5 percent).
Indiana: The Hoosiers enjoyed a 17-10 advantage in assists and an 18-4 scoring edge in points off turnovers. . Finished 30 of 67 (44.8 percent) from the field.
THEY SAID IT
Tennessee Tech: ””We didn’t respond the way we should have. Indiana had a lot to do with that,” Payne said.
Indiana: ”Josh Newkirk had a hard couple of practices, forcing him to compete and forcing him to get out of his foul trouble and just not being able to lead us out there more. He was very good tonight. When we have decent guard play, we’re a lot better,” Miller said.
SMILING THROUGH PAIN
Indiana sophomore forward De’Ron Davis flashed an amused but uncomfortable grin after being struck in the left groin while making a first-half hook shot. He hobbled down the floor, laughing and grimacing at the same time, and assured the coaching staff he was OK. The Hoosiers sat him down and applied a large bag of ice to the area.
Davis returned and finished with nine points and five rebounds in 12 minutes.
Tennessee Tech: Opens Ohio Valley Conference play next Tuesday with a home game against Morehead State.
Indiana: Hosts Youngstown State on Dec. 29 in final non-conference game on the schedule.