BLOOMINGTON – This was more than just an exhibition game for Maurice Creek.
This was the countless hours of rehab paying off. This was for the many trips to the trainer’s room. This was for all the hard work necessary to return after three serious leg injuries.
Creek scored a team-high 12 points for No. 1 Indiana in an 86-57 victory over Indiana Wesleyan in front of 17,186 fans Thursday at Assembly Hall.
I thank these guys every day for giving me the strength to go through the rehab, go through the tough times and rebuild to get back to this point, Creek said.
Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Will Sheehey each added 11 points as the Hoosiers cruised in their only exhibition of the season.
It was Creek’s first action in a game since Jan. 15, 2011. He suffered a season-ending stress fracture in his right patella in that game against Michigan.
I was very excited for Maurice. It was very emotional watching the crowd react to him. It’s not surprising because it’s Indiana, IU coach Tom Crean said.
You never take it for granted, and I don’t think any of us take it for granted that have lived with him the fact how special it is that he’s back out there. It’s been a long road and he’s earned it.
It was the second straight year his season ended early because of a knee injury. He was limited to just 12 games as a freshman. His season ended after suffering a broken left patella on a Dec. 28, 2009, game against Bryant.
Creek missed all last season after suffering a ruptured Achilles tendon.
The fans knew of the work he’s put in to return. The crowd gave him a standing ovation when he entered the game with 10:57 left in the first half. The student section then began a Mo Creek chant.
It was a great reaction. A standing ovation, that’s big time. That’s love, Creek said. I have to thank everybody, and I appreciated everybody who stood up for me.
Creek made a layup to tie the game at 22 with 8:33 to go. His three-pointer with 6:59 left in the half gave IU its first lead, 27-25.
Zac Vandewater, who attended Whitko, made a three-pointer to give Indiana Wesleyan a 28-27 lead with 6:24 to go. It would be the Wildcats’ final lead of the game. IU went on a 14-2 run to take a 41-30 lead into halftime. It was all Indiana from there.
Eleven players scored for the Hoosiers. Victor Oladipo had 10 points while Kevin Yogi Ferrell finished with eight points, four rebounds and four assists. Remy Abell had a strong night off the bench with seven points and three assists.
IU showed its depth, getting 46 points off the bench. And Creek led the way.
I love the game just like these guys love it, Creek said. To sit down for a year-and-a-half hurt. These guys helped me get back on the floor.
Note: Vandewater, a 6-5 sophomore, finished with five points, three rebounds and three steals.