Hoosiers’ Crean: ‘We’re a growing team right now’

Tom Crean's squad had a hard time maintaining its offensive efficiency against top-tier competition.

Jasen Vinlove/Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana ran into problems in its first test against tougher competition away from home.

Although an even greater challenge looms, it has a chance to regroup against an inferior opponent in its return home.

Two days before facing the defending national champion, the 13th-ranked Hoosiers look to drop Alcorn State to 0-6 on Monday night.

Indiana (4-2) arrived in Hawaii for the Maui Invitational having averaged 92.0 points and 56.0 percent shooting in three blowout wins, but had a hard time duplicating that efficiency against better talent. The Hoosiers shot 57.7 percent in an 83-73 win over St. John’s, but averaged 73.5 points and 44.6 percent shooting in losses to Wake Forest and UNLV.

Tom Crean’s team had 21 turnovers in Wednesday’s 72-69 loss to the Runnin’ Rebels and finished the tournament in sixth place. Leading scorer Yogi Ferrell had a season-low nine points and highly touted freshman Thomas Bryant scored a season-worst seven while committing four fouls.

"We’re a growing team right now in a lot of ways," Crean said. "The most important thing that we could grow into is understanding where our responsibilities lie as individuals and improvement, and as a team for how we can be collectively better.

"This is a great tournament to learn about that in. A great tournament. No question disappointed with a loss, but we’ve got to turn this into some positives."

One positive for the Hoosiers, who visit No. 6 Duke on Wednesday, is that they’ve remained proficient from 3-point range despite the recent shooting struggles. They made 11 of 20 from beyond the arc against UNLV and are among the nation’s leaders in 3-point shooting (42.7 percent) and 3s made (64).

James Blackmon Jr., second on the team with 14.3 points per game, is 17 of 38 from beyond the arc while reserve guard Nick Zeisloft has made 17 of 28 3s.

The perimeter game creates all sorts of problems for Alcorn State, which is allowing opponents to shoot 43.9 percent from 3-point range for one of the nation’s worst marks. The Braves are one of the worst defensive teams overall, allowing 84.2 points and 51.0 percent shooting per game.

History is also not on Alcorn State’s side, as it’s been outscored by an average of 40.6 points in losing all 11 games against Top 25 teams since 2002-03. It has also lost 99 consecutive nonconference road contests.

The Hoosiers have had little trouble defending their home court, winning 51 of 52 there against nonconference opponents.

Alcorn State is coming off Saturday’s 73-71 loss to Florida A&M in the Corpus Christi Coastal Classic, with the Rattlers’ Malcolm Bernard scoring the winning basket just before the final buzzer. The Braves had been outscored by an average of 30.0 points in their first four games with the closest margin being 22.

Devonte Hampton, DeAndre Davis and Reginald Johnson each scored 14 for Alcorn State, which was again hurt by an inability to convert from deep, going 3 of 19 on 3-pointers.

The Braves are one of the worst 3-point shooting teams in the nation at 26.0 percent.

In the only meeting between these programs, Indiana won 73-69 in the quarterfinals of the 1979 NIT.