BLOOMINGTON — It was a rough trip to Puerto Rico for Tom Crean and the Indiana Hoosiers. After beginning the season 2-0, Indiana dropped three straight games in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off Classic to Ole Miss, Boston University and George Mason.
But after six days off and numerous practices that emphasized defense, Indiana returned to Assembly Hall with a convincing 90-72 win over Northwestern State on Saturday.
“We had a very good week of getting better,” Crean said following the win. “We’ve had a very good week of starting to learn our roles and what’s important.”
Maurice Creek and Christian Watford scored 17 points each for the Hoosiers (3-3).
Indiana shot 48 percent from the field, hit 34 of 44 free throws and had assists on 19 of its 25 field goals, led by 10 from Jeremiah Rivers.
“He took what the game gave him,” Crean said of Rivers. “I was very impressed with him. He really read the game well. I was very proud of the way he played.”
Northwestern State (2-2) cut the lead to nine at 59-50 with 10:37 remaining, but Indiana responded with a 8-0 run, capped by a 3-pointer by Verdell Jones, to put the game away.
“It just seemed like they were in their rhythm, and to me, they are rhythm players,” Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. “I thought they did a good job with that and looked improved from what I’ve seen.”
(The four factors are explained, here.)
Up next: Maryland on Tuesday at 7:30 PM for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on ESPN2.
Dumes gets back on track: The 6-2 senior scored 11 points off the bench in 22 minutes. “I felt it was a better effort today. I bring the effort every time. I just played a little better today,” Dumes said. He added that his knee is feeling about 80 to 85 percent healthy.
Elston brings energy off the bench: The 6-9 freshman had 12 points, six rebounds and four steals off the bench in 18 minutes. “I rebounded well today, something that coach has been harping on me about,” Elston said.
Filed to: Tom Crean