Video: Tom Crean reacts to win over Houston Baptist

Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 103-61 win over Houston Baptist on Saturday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch his postgame comments below:

Video: Ron Contrell reacts to loss at Indiana

Houston Baptist coach Ron Contrell addressed the media following his team’s 103-61 loss to Indiana on Saturday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch his postgame comments below:

The Minute After: Houston Baptist

Thoughts on a 103-61 win over the Huskies:

Another guarantee game graced us with it presence on Saturday. And another Indiana blowout ensued.

Just two more remain — sandwiched between next Saturday’s Butler bout and the start of conference play against Nebraska on De. 28 — before the 2016-2017 Hoosiers bid adieu to the cupcakes.

Team wise, the numbers paint a lovely picture for the Hoosiers this evening. Indiana scored a blistering 1.37 points per possession. And the Hoosiers, despite a seriously fast tempo tonight at times, were also good with the ball, turning it over on just 15.9 percent of their possessions. Couple the points per possession with the low turnovers and it’s how you get a 42-point victory. The Hoosiers also eclipsed the 40 percent mark from distance (12-of-28, 42.9 percent) for the first time since a win over Liberty on Nov. 19 — breaking a five-game sub-40 streak.

James Blackmon Jr. led the charge from distance (4-of-10), while Devonte Green (2-of-4), Curtis Jones (2-of-4), Josh Newkirk (1-of-2) and Juwan Morgan (1-of-2) all hit 50 percent. Robert Johnson hit 2-of-5 to round out the scoring from 3-point range.

Defensively, the Hoosiers continue to show promise, holding the Huskies to just .81 points per possession and swatting five shots. Thomas Bryant had four of those blocked shots, a career-high. The Hoosiers also racked up 22 points off of Houston Baptist turnovers. Indiana entered tonight’s contest ranked No. 33 in defensive efficiency per KenPom. Indiana’s offense may end up being a touch less elite than the last two season (currently 13th after finishing 6th and 8th, respectively) but a more intimidating defense has the chance to make up for a bit of a dip in offensive production.

After a stretch of great play the last couple outings, De’Ron Davis found himself in foul trouble and eventually fouled out in this one. So he played only nine minutes and mustered just three points and three rebounds. Zach McRoberts threw a number of great passes (four assists) and his willingness to dive on the floor for a loose ball set up Indiana with a possession which led to a Blackmon Jr. transition dunk. Jones continues to show he deserves minutes (11 points, three rebounds, two assists). Beyond his four blocks, Bryant posted a near double-double (nine points, 13 boards). Freddie McSwain has his best game as a Hoosier (eight points, four rebounds, one steal). Tim Priller even got in the mix tonight, scoring four points in three minutes of action.

OG Anunoby warmed up before the contest and according to Tom Crean has been cleared to play. With the stakes of this game low, it looks like the decision was made to keep Anunoby out of the contest as a precaution. The good news is the sophomore should be back for Butler next Saturday up in Indianapolis.

The Bulldogs (KenPom No. 20) lost by a point at Indiana State earlier this week for their first loss of the season. But they have some nice neutral court wins against Vanderbilt (KenPom 77) and Arizona (KenPom 22) and also just defeated Cincinnati (KenPom 21) at home this evening.

The Hoosiers will get a week to prepare. And with Anunoby back in the fold, should be more at full strength against a Butler squad not to be taken lightly.

Video: IU players react to win over Houston Baptist

Freddie McSwain, Robert Johnson and Juwan Morgan met with the media following Indiana’s 103-61 win over Houston Baptist on Saturday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch the press conference below:

At the buzzer: Indiana 103, Houston Baptist 61

Quick thoughts on a 103-61 win over Houston Baptist:

How it happened: As was the case with Indiana’s previous two opponents – SIU Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri State – this one was over before it started. The Hoosiers outclassed Houston Baptist from a talent perspective and as a result, ran them off of Branch McCracken Court. The win moved Indiana to 8-1 on the season and was the 24th straight win at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, which is the fifth longest active home court winning streak in the country. OG Anunoby was also a full participant in warmups and appeared to be available to play (although he didn’t), which is a good sign heading into Saturday’s showdown with Butler in the Crossroads Classic.

Standout performance: Sophomore Juwan Morgan made his first four shots, which set the program record for consecutive field goals made at 14. Morgan finished with 13 points on 4-of-5 shooting from the field and 4-of-5 from the foul line in 20 minutes. He also had seven rebounds, two assists, a block, a steal and just one turnover.

Statistic that stands out: Indiana posted a season low turnover percentage (15.9%) and was at 13.4 percent at halftime. In the past we’ve seen the Hoosiers turn it over at a high rate against low major competition, so this was a solid performance in terms of taking care of the ball.

Final IU player stats:

Final tempo-free stats:

Hoosiers use dead week to rest, focus on improvement

For the first time this season, Indiana went an entire Monday to Friday without a game. The time off from game action was needed after a stretch of four games in eight days, allowing players to study for final exams, rest and prepare for the challenges ahead.

“We’ve tried to focus really hard this week on development, improvement, refinement, some reminders,” coach Tom Crean said Friday.

Crean gave the team both Monday and Wednesday off from practice. Crean called Tuesday’s practice ‘good’ and said Thursday featured a lot of scrimmaging and was ‘very energetic and not overly long.’ The team spent much of Friday in the film room, where Crean gave each player a specific area of focus to improve on the court.

“In some cases, it’s development, in some cases, it’s just reminders,” Crean said. “Seeing it on film and at the same time getting out into practice and having accountability for it. There’s a lot of energy to be gained from even your best players realizing they need to get better. We try to focus on that every day, but when you’ve got four games in eight days, it’s very hard to get better at that.”

One player Crean singled out his praise for was sophomore Juwan Morgan. The last several weeks have been perhaps the best of Morgan’s Hoosier career.

Morgan followed up a stellar night against North Carolina with consecutive games where he lit up the stat sheet, putting up double-digit scoring totals while dishing dimes, swatting shots, and grabbing offensive boards.

Crean, however, said Morgan’s contributions go far beyond the box score.

“(Morgan’s teammates) are not only dependent on his abilities and his personality, they’ve become dependent on his execution and they feel comfortable with him out there,” Crean said. “He’s going to make plays, get big rebounds, be a part of big stops. He moves the ball well. That just brings a comfort level to guys that makes it even easier for me to say what needs to be said when it needs to be said.”

Letting leaders develop

Crean has taken time in the majority of media availabilities to talk about the need for leadership, and Thursday was no different. Over the last few games, Crean says he has been letting different players address the team during timeouts.

“It’s something that’s just a spontaneous thing. As a coach you just try and find those moments where they can impact a team. It’s not like you can come in with a plan of how you can make a player a better leader. You’ve gotta react to what the moment is. At times it’s great to be proactive with it, but it’s more the reaction and the feel of it.”

Davis blossoming

After a relatively quiet start to his freshman season, De’Ron Davis’ has quickly become a crucial part of Indiana’s rotation. Over his last three games, Davis is shooting 63 percent from the floor and is averaging three offensive boards and 1.7 blocks per contest.

Fellow big man Thomas Bryant said he’s been impressed with Davis’ recent play, and loves his footwork and tenacity in the post.

“He’s a big body down there so he knows how to move and use his ankles to the best of his abilities down there (in the post),” Bryant said. “He doesn’t just give up on anything. If he doesn’t get it the first time, he’ll go back and post up a second and third time and go in there and get the rebound as well.”

Bryant also discussed the time he’s spent alongside Davis in the front court, saying it’s allowed the duo to showcase their passing abilities when defenses hone in on the post, giving the guards space to roam and attack.

Anunoby update

Crean didn’t provide much in the way of an update when it came to the status of OG Anunoby, who has not played since suffering a high ankle sprain in the victory over UNC on Nov. 30.

“He’s definitely improving,” Crean said. “It’s still too early to tell for us when he’ll be back. He just continues to rehabilitate. Does a little bit more at times. It’s still truly a day-to-day type deal.”

Crean did go on to say that while Anunoby is not involved in scrimmages or other strenuous activities, he hasn’t become any less engaged.

“It’s not like he’s in another room while we’re practicing,” Crean said. “We have a daily plan for him and he’s a part of the team whether he’s involved in the action or not.”

Video: Crean, IU players preview Houston Baptist

Tom Crean, Zach McRoberts and Thomas Bryant met with the media on Friday evening at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to preview Indiana’s game against Houston Baptist on Saturday.

Watch both press conferences below:

What to Expect: Houston Baptist

A much needed five-day break comes to an end for Indiana on Saturday as the Hoosiers host Houston Baptist at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Huskies are 3-4 and are coming off a 62-47 win over Saint Peter’s on Wednesday at home.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 4 p.m. ET with Jeff Levering & Bob Wenzel on the call:

After a brutal stretch that included four games in eight days, Indiana had the week off. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Final exams are coming up next week and the Hoosiers also had very little time to practice during their recent run of games. Add in the fact that OG Anunoby is out with an ankle injury and several others are dealing with minor injuries and Indiana should be much more fresh when it takes the floor on Saturday.

Less than three weeks remain until the start of the Big Ten schedule and Houston Baptist is one of three remaining low major opponents on the docket. A year ago at this time, Indiana was still licking its wounds following a brutal loss at Duke in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. This year, the Hoosiers own a top 10 national ranking, wins over Kansas and North Carolina and one of the nation’s best resumes thus far. Can Indiana continue the momentum?

MEET THE HUSKIES

Houston Baptist, which finished 17-17 last season, was picked to finish fifth in the 13-team Southland Conference in the preseason. The Huskies have played just five games so far against Division I competition with road losses to Texas Tech, New Mexico, Marquette and Rice and a win at home over Saint Peter’s, which is ranked in the top 200 of KenPom. This isn’t a contest that figures to give Indiana much, if any, trouble.

Houston Baptist has just two players averaging in double figures: 6-foot-7 senior forward Colton Lasher (pictured) and Josh Ibarra, a 6-foot-11 junior.

Lasher is averaging a team-high 13.1 points per game, but is shooting just 39 percent from the field. He has a team-high 10 steals. Ibarra is a very good defensive rebounder and is making 56.1 percent of his field goal attempts.

Alex Fountain, a 6-foot-7 senior, comes off the bench and is the team’s fourth leading scorer at 8.9 points per game. He’s also the team’s best 3-point shooter at 53.8 percent.

Sophomore Braxton Bonds and freshman Jalen Weber split the point guard duties with Bonds as the starter. The 6-foot-2 sophomore is averaging 7.4 points, four rebounds and has 21 assists (to 11 turnovers) in 25.1 minutes per game. Weber has hit 6 of his 12 3-point attempts and averages 6.6 points per game.

Reveal Chukwujekwu, a 6-foot-3 senior, is Houston Baptist’s third leading scorer (9.0 ppg) and second leading rebounder (5.6 rpg). Atif Russell, a graduate transfer from Pepperdine, is averaging 8.8 points, but is shooting just 40.5 percent from the field.

Asa Cantwell, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, has made a team-high 15 3-pointers and is shooting 50 percent from deep. Jalen Weber, a 6-foot-1 freshman, is another member of the 10-man rotation who can knock in a 3 if left open. Weber is 6-of-12 on 3s this season.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

There are a couple of things Houston Baptist does well that bear watching. The Huskies are hitting 37 percent of their 3s against Division I competition and are also in the top 55 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.

But everything else on the resume suggests it will be a long afternoon for Ron Cottrell’s team in Bloomington.

Division I opponents are making 61 percent of their 2s against Houston Baptist and are posting a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 49.4 percent. Despite having some size on the roster, Houston Baptist has no shot blocking presence and has been consistently exploited in the paint.

Houston Baptist also likes to run and in four of its five games against Division I teams, the Huskies have had 74 or more possessions.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Vegas line will be out later on Friday afternoon, but Ken Pomeroy is projecting a 24-point win with a 99 percent chance of victory for Indiana. Sagarin has Indiana as a 25-point favorite when adjusted for home court.

With another week off between this contest and next Saturday’s Crossroads Classic game against Butler in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, this is an important game for Indiana to implement whatever it has focused on this past week in practice.

Houston Baptist is unlikely to keep this game competitive after halftime as all of its losses have come by 16 points or more. A win would push Indiana’s home court winning streak to 24 games, which is currently the fifth longest streak in the nation.

(Photo credit: Wilf Thorne, The Chronicle)

Brooklyn Nets waive former IU guard Yogi Ferrell

Former Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell was placed on waivers on Thursday afternoon by the Brooklyn Nets after appearing in 10 of the team’s first 21 games.

Ferrell averaged 5.4 points, 1.7 assists and 1.2 rebounds in 15.4 minutes per game for the Nets, who signed him after releasing Greivis Vásquez.

Unless another NBA team claims Ferrell, Brooklyn will still own his rights. If he goes unclaimed, he would be assigned to the team’s Development League affiliate, the Long Island Nets.

According to Bobby Marks of the Vertical, the salary cap hit for the Nets waiving Ferrell is just $102,300.

Update: The Nets have signed Spencer Dinwiddie for the roster spot vacated by Ferrell:

Davis emerging as significant factor in IU’s rotation

Indiana’s 2012-2013 team featuring Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo is regarded as Tom Crean’s best in his first eight seasons in Bloomington.

That group won the Big Ten outright, earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA tournament and won 29 games before falling to Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen.

This season’s team may not have two lottery picks or the experienced veteran leadership that Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Derek Elston provided, but it does have the potential to build something that team didn’t possess: a quality bench.

By the end of the 2012-2013 season, Indiana was largely playing a 8-man rotation with Will Sheehey, Remy Abell and Jeremy Hollowell off the bench. Of those three, only Sheehey was the player who produced with any consistency.

Through eight games, this Indiana team appears to have more upside on the bench. Juwan Morgan, who had been coming off the bench before the injury to OG Anunoby, can play multiple positions effectively. Freshman Curtis Jones went for 15 points in IU’s season opening win over Kansas in Hawaii. Most recently, another freshman is charging hard into the rotation: De’Ron Davis.

The Colorado Mr. Basketball got a late start to his collegiate career after missing the summer in Bloomington, but has rounded into form over IU’s last three games.

In wins over North Carolina, SIU Edwardsville and Southeast Missouri State, Davis is averaging 11 points, 3.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks in 15.3 minutes per game.

More importantly than the raw numbers, Davis owns the seventh best player efficiency rating among Big Ten players according to John Hollinger’s player efficiency ratings. And his offensive rating of 128.2 is the second best of IU’s rotation players (behind Juwan Morgan) according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats.

At 6-foot-10, Davis isn’t an explosive athlete, but he understands positioning, footwork and is an excellent passer for a big man. He’s also done a solid job of blocking shots without fouling, a sign that he understands timing is arguably the most important factor in blocking and changing shots.

His versatility, along with the comfort level Indiana has with Thomas Bryant on the perimeter, has led to lineups including both Davis and Bryant together. In previous seasons, it’s been rare for the Hoosiers to utilize two big men in the same lineup.

“The next big thing, along with De’Ron being able to play those (longer) stretches is to be able to play with Thomas inside of those stretches even better than what they have as we move up the ladder here,” Tom Crean said on Sunday. “We’re proud of the week that he had.”

Once Anunoby returns from injury, Indiana will be able to mix up lineups to best suit certain matchups. The Hoosiers started three guards against both Kansas and UNC, but have also started Anunoby, Morgan and Bryant together in two games.

The continued development of Davis should give Crean even more flexibility moving forward. That flexibility didn’t necessarily exist back in 2012-13, when Indiana utilized a smaller rotation and the same starting lineup in 35 of 36 games.

“There’s a lot of room for improvement. I’m not married to a lineup,” Crean explained. “With that being said, we’ll see how it goes. I’m happy with his attitude and improvement. I know how much he wants it. He’s smart. And he’s just getting used to playing when he didn’t have the summer to prepare for it.”