After leading by just six at halftime, Indiana used a strong second half to win its exhibition debut 96-73 over NAIA opponent Grace College Wednesday night at Assembly Hall.
Six Indiana players scored in double figures, led by 19 points from Christian Watford and 14 from Jordan Hulls.
A couple of thoughts from Indiana’s exhibition opener:
Watford was very effective after he settled down. He looked a bit anxious early, which is to be expected for a freshman, but his athleticism around the basket made an instant impact. He got to the line nine times and connected on all of his attempts. Impressive debut.
The basketball IQ of Hulls will make him a fan favorite in Bloomington. He has a knack for setting up teammates and when left open, he was able to knock down some shots. And he didn’t register a turnover.
Verdell Jones picked up where he left off at the end of last season. Jones is still lanky, but he’s added some weight and is stronger in his upper body. He was a bit sloppy with the ball at times, but he turned in solid effort with 10 points and eight assists.
Jeremiah Rivers could be the defensive presence that Indiana desperately needs to win in the Big Ten. The Georgetown transfer was solid on both ends of the floor, but was especially effective with his on the ball defense.
Tom Pritchard had a couple of crafty moves around the bucket, but he still needs to do a better job at finishing point-blank opportunities. The good news for Pritchard is that Watford, Derek Elston and Bobby Capobianco should all help take pressure off of him in the post.
Elston and Capobianco both hit the glass hard. Elston had a nice reverse lay-up and is the more athletic option of the two. Capobianco brought intensity, but struggled with picking up unnecessary fouls.
Maurice Creek had an unspectacular debut, totaling just five points and five turnovers. Creek should bounce back with a stronger game Monday and will be an impact guy.
All in all, about what most of us expected from an exhibition debut with six new faces, right? Tom Crean probably won’t be thrilled with several easy baskets the Hoosiers allowed down low and in transition, but that’s what the pre-season is for. Indiana will return to action on Monday against St. Joseph’s at Assembly Hall. That game will also be broadcast on BigTenNetwork.com.
Pick to Click winner: Christian Watford (Phillip, StuHoo, favreDollarfootlong, ariufan, hoosier07, JerryCT, hoosierwhodey, CrimsonLaw1L, NMHoosier, Martin34, Kelin Blab)