IU finds ‘D’ re­lief

Hoosiers turn up the heat in sec­ond half to beat Rut­gers

Post-Tribune - - Post-Tribune Sports - BY MICHAEL MAROT

BLOOM­ING­TON — In­di­ana fi­nally found a rem­edy Satur­day for its re­cent ail­ments. De­fense. Af­ter an­other slug­gish start by the No. 22 Hoosiers, they locked in, buck­led down and al­lowed just three bas­kets over the fi­nal seven min­utes to rally for a 72-64 victory over Rut­gers.

“To me, it’s not about the eye test, it’s not about be­ing pretty, it’s about be­ing ef­fi­cient,” coach Tom Crean said.

They were, es­pe­cially late when Crean counted seven de­fen­sive stops over the fi­nal 10 pos­ses­sions and the Hoosiers went on an 8-0 run to re­take the lead. In­di­ana sealed the win by hit­ting 10 con­sec­u­tive free throws.

The Hoosiers’ strong stand be­gan af­ter a quick break.

“Com­ing out of that time­out, ev­ery one of us said, ‘Come on, give it all for th­ese last seven min­utes’ and we just kind of toughed it out,” James Black­mon Jr. said.

But noth­ing has come easy for In­di­ana (16-6, 6-3 Big Ten) lately.

The Hoosiers lost their pre­vi­ous two games by dou­ble dig­its and were play­ing for the fourth time in nine days. They started this game mak­ing by just 5 of 20 shots, trailed by as much as eight in the first half and never even threat­ened to take con­trol un­til the fi­nal four min­utes of the first half.

Black­mon had 20 points while Kevin “Yogi” Fer­rell and Troy Wil­liams each fin­ished with 14 for the Hoosiers. Wil­liams also matched his ca­reer high with 12 re­bounds de­spite be­ing rel­e­gated to bench duty for only the fourth time this sea­son.

Rut­gers (10-13, 2-8) made things tough all day.

Myles Mack scored 24 points in­clud­ing 12 in the first six min­utes of the sec­ond half when he hit three 3s and three free throws to put the Scar­let Knights back in front. Ju­nior Etou added 13 points and Kadeem Jack had 11.

Rut­gers ral­lied just be­fore half­time to close the deficit to 32-30. Mack con­tin­ued the surge af­ter the break, and when he made his fourth 3 of the half with 11:33 to go, Rut­gers had pushed the lead to 52-45.

The Hoosiers an­swered with seven straight points to tie the score, then took the lead for good when Nick Zeisloft hit a 3 to make it 59-57 with 6:35 left. Rut­gers never led again. “Although we played well for 35 min­utes, I told the team with a team like this on the road in this en­vi­ron­ment, you have to play bet­ter than well the last five min­utes,” coach Ed­die Jor­dan said. “It’s hard to do. It’s hard to play bet­ter than well.”

Tip-ins

Rut­gers: The Scar­let Knights came into the game with the low­est scor­ing av­er­age in the Big Ten. But they sure didn’t play that way, mak­ing 10 of their first 19 shots and go­ing 7 of 17 on 3s. The 64-point to­tal was their high­est in two weeks.

In­di­ana: Crean shook up his lineup Satur­day to get bet­ter matchups and wear down Rut­gers. The re­sult? The Hoosiers had a 26-0 scor­ing ad­van­tage off the bench, 32-22 edge on points in the paint and an 18-2 ad­van­tage on fast­break points.

| AP PHOTO

In­di­ana guard James Black­mon Jr. scored 20 points in Satur­day’s win over Rut­gers.

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