TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (AP) — Indiana State picked the perfect night to play the perfect game.
The defense smothered Doug McDermott, shut down one of the nation’s highest-scoring teams and made it look easier than anybody could have anticipated.
Jake Odum finished with 22 points, five assists and four steals Wednesday night, leading the unranked Sycamores to a stunning 76-57 win over No. 16 Creighton in a game that wasn’t even that close.
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“I don’t know if we can play any better,” Indiana State coach Greg Lansing said. “We played well at both ends of the floor. I know Creighton didn’t play very well, but our guys followed the game plan perfectly and we really gave them a run, and I still think that’s one of the best teams in the country.”
It was sure hard to tell on a night nobody will soon forget in Terre Haute.
Indiana State (15-8, 8-4 Missouri Valley Conference) earned the school’s 1,400th victory, beat a Top 25 team at home for the first time since upsetting Butler in December 2006 and watched Odum, a local kid, become the 35th member of the school’s 1,000-point club. Creighton also was the highest-ranked team to come to town since then-No. 12 Tulsa visited on Feb. 2, 1985, and the Bluejays went home with their most lopsided loss all season.
Yet the most important part might be this: Indiana State has won three of its last four and has moved within one game of the league-leading Bluejays.
How did they do it?
With good old-fashioned in-your-face basketball.
“It’s the best (defense) we’ve seen this year,” coach Greg McDermott said. “They kept us in front of them and they didn’t really expose themselves when they did help. They outrebounded us on the backboard, and I’ll have to take a look at the tape, but I thought some of our shots were ill-advised.”
On a normal night, McDermott’s son probably would have bailed out Creighton (20-4, 9-3).
But the star forward, who came into the game averaging 24.0 points, never had a chance. He scored only eight points on 3 of 9 shooting in the first half and managed only one shot and no points over the final 20 minutes. The only other time he finished with fewer than 10 points this season was Nov. 14 against Alabama-Birmingham.
Without McDermott, the Bluejays were erratic. Only one player, backup Will Artino, reached double figures. He had 13 points.
Creighton, the nation’s best shooting team, shot just 41.7 percent from the field and wound up with a season-low point total, easily exceeding its previous worst (64) in a loss at Wichita State. Without a late scoring flurry, it would have been even worse for a team that was averaging 79.0 points.
“They were the better team tonight, there was no question,” McDermott said. “We were flat and they were outstanding.”
At times, Indiana State was virtually flawless.
Odum scored 16 points, dished out four assists and made 5 of 6 from the field during a first half that the Sycamores didn’t even commit a turnover. They finished with only five turnovers.
Unlike McDermott, Odum had plenty of help. R.J. Mahurin made three 3-pointers and finished with 17 points. Manny Arop, the transfer from Gonzaga, scored 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds.
About the only thing that didn’t go right was that Odum finished two assists short of No. 400, but nobody was going to quibble about that, especially the students who meandered onto the floor at game’s end and shared some hugs with the Indiana State players.
“I said it couple times out there and Manny did also about finishing the game off,” Odum said. “Earlier in the season, we didn’t quite finish games, we let teams battle back and a team like Creighton you can’t let them get going.”
The Sycamores took control with runs of 12-2 and 7-2 late in the first half to take a 35-24 halftime lead and never gave Creighton a chance in the second half.
Mahurin opened the second half with a four-point play, the fifth of his career. After a dunk from Creighton, Odum answered with a layup and a jumper. Devonte Brown then scored on a layup and Mahurin closed out the 13-3 spurt with another 3 to give the Sycamores a 48-27 lead.
Indiana State extended the lead to 70-42, with 4:36 to go, and Creighton never cut the deficit to single digits in the second half.
“That’s the leading offense team in the country and we really played well against them,” Lansing said. “We wanted to make it awfully difficult for them to get an easy look, take a contested shot and only give them one. They only had six offensive rebounds. I know they didn’t play their best but our defense was awfully locked in tonight and that was by every guy they played.”