Blackmon Jr. scores 33, Indiana beats Alcorn State 112-70
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — James Blackmon Jr. had a career night offensively for Indiana Monday night when he scored 33 points in the Hoosiers’ convincing 112-70 victory over Alcorn State.
But Indiana coach Tom Crean was even happier with the way Indiana, and Blackmon Jr. in particular, attacked on the defensive side of the ball. One of Crean’s favorite statistics is defensive deflections and he said Blackmon had 15 on Monday night.
"James’ shooting was certainly impressive but the 15 deflections were far more impressive to me because that’s what you want to do," Crean said. "You want to get it to the point where your defense is creating your offense. He just happened to be shooting it at an incredible rate but he also created so much from his defense for himself and others tonight."
Blackmon Jr. hit 11 of 15 shots, including 6 of 9 3-pointers, as he bested his previous career scoring high of 26 set last season against SMU.
As Blackmon Jr. came out of the game in the closing minutes to a standing ovation from the crowd at Assembly Hall, Crean was the first to greet him.
"He said, `See what happens? The offense comes so easy to you,’" Blackmon said. "`You shouldn’t worry about that. That’s what you do. But when you defend like that, that’s what’s going to happen.’"
The game was the final tune up for Indiana (5-2) before the Hoosiers face No. 7 Duke Wednesday night on the road in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge. IU had been ranked No. 13 before losing two of three games last week in Maui and dropping out of the rankings this week.
Indiana shot 67.2 percent from the field, hitting 39 of 58 shots. The Hoosiers hit 15 of 26 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Indiana had six players score in double figures. Yogi Ferrell and Thomas Bryant each had 13, Robert Johnson had 12, Troy Williams scored 11 and Collin Hartman added 10.
Blackmon was hot from the start. He had eight quick points, including a 3-pointer, as IU jumped to a 12-0 lead in the first 3 minutes. He reached double figures at the 12:27 mark when he hit a 3-pointer from the right wing. With 2:38 to play in the first half, he had already eclipsed his season high when he scored his 21st point.
At the half, Blackmon had 24 points as Indiana led 53-34 at the break.
Alcorn State coach Montez Robinson said the key for Blackmon offensively was that he didn’t force any shots.
"He let the game come to him," Robinson said. "He did not force anything, nor was he gunning the ball. The ball was swinging, he would be open, feet set and he’d shoot."
While the 19-point lead was solid, Indiana turned the ball over eight times in the first half. In the second half, when Indiana scored 59 points, the Hoosiers only had four turnovers.
In the second half, IU extended the lead to 30 with under 11 minutes to play on a driving layup by Nick Zeisloft.
Tamarcio Wilson led Alcorn State (0-6) with 15 points.
Alcorn State: The Braves had 15 offensive rebounds and scored 38 points in the paint against the Hoosiers. The previous high score against Alcorn State this season had been 97 by the University of Portland.
Indiana: This was the fifth time that Indiana has made better than 50 percent of its shots from the field in the first seven games. The previous high was 67 percent against Austin Peay Nov. 16. The last player to score 30 points in a game for the Hoosiers was Will Sheehey against Iowa in 2014. The 112 points was the most by IU since scoring 116 against Mississippi Valley State in the season opener last year.
Alcorn State: The Braves travel to Mercer on Saturday.
Indiana: The Hoosiers will travel to play Duke in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Wednesday.