After one of its best halves of basketball last week against Kentucky and a week of final exams, it was tough to imagine Indiana would come out with the same type of intensity for North Carolina Central.
In front of a crowd of 11,010 at Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers (5-5) got 29 points from Maurice Creek and limited NC Central to 28 percent shooting in the second half for a comfortable 81-58 win.
“We realized that we weren’t back in world history class or calculus, ” Indiana coach Tom Crean said of his team’s effort in the second half. “In the first half, our heads were somewhere else. We did not have a defensive mindset. You’ve got to make defense your calling card and in the second half we did that.”
Creek continued to make the case that he’s the Big Ten’s best freshman – the Oxon Hill (MD) native hit 12 of 17 field goals, including 5 of 10 three’s and grabbed seven rebounds. And 20 of his points came in the second half.
Indiana led just 36-33 at halftime, but quickly took control after intermission with a 22-9 run to push its lead to 58-42 with 13:29 remaining. The Eagles (2-9) never got closer than 13 the rest of the way.
Christian Watford was the only other Hoosier to score in double figures with 11 points. Jordan Hulls had arguably his best all-around game to-date, totaling five points, seven rebounds, eight assists and just one turnover in 22 minutes. Jeremiah Rivers also had eight assists.
Indiana shot 51 percent and won the rebounding battle, 46-28, and points in the paint, 38-20.
C.J. Wilkerson had 22 points to lead North Carolina Central.
Pick to click: Creek
Creek just misses 30: The freshman guard nearly pulled off a second straight 30-point game and would have been the first Hoosier freshman since Eric Gordon to do so back in 2007. Gordon scored 30 points on November 20, 2007 against UNC Wilmington and 31 points on November 23, 2007 against Illinois State.
Elston replaces Pritchard in starting lineup: The 6-9 freshman got the first start of his career and scored seven points in 15 minutes. Pritchard had eight points and six rebounds in 21 minutes.
Postgame player interviews, courtesy of IU Athletics on YouTube: