BLOOMINGTON – A young team played beyond its years Saturday.
Indiana put together a veteran effort in its 89-68 rout of North Florida at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers (7-2) passed well. They defended well. The usual suspects like sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell and freshman forward Noah Vonleh played well, graduate transfer Evan Gordon had a breakout game, and the rest of the team filled in the gaps with 41 bench points.
North Florida (5-6) wasn’t a great opponent, and IU had its share of mistakes. But the Hoosiers didn’t look like a group that featured six freshmen against the Ospreys.
It looked good, coach Tom Crean said.
It’s amazing what happens when we pass the ball like that and the turnovers do cut down, he said. When you’re focusing on just continuing to make the next pass and you get your game in rhythm, then those good things happen.
IU had a season-high 17 assists, seven of which it got in the first eight minutes.
The Hoosiers turned it over just once in those first eight minutes and finished with a season-low 11 turnovers.
Both of those numbers matched the averages from last year’s veteran team.
There’s no comparison to that group at this point, Crean said. But it was exciting for him to see his guys grasping what it means to move the ball.
When that ball’s swinging like that, yeah, that’s a very good thing, he said. That’s when it looks like they’re getting it, that it’s coming to them.
Ferrell had 14 points and seven assists. Vonleh got his sixth double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds as well as four steals.
Gordon set a career high with 15 points as IU put together one of its most efficient offensive performances of the year. Gordon hit his first seven shots and finished 7 of 9.
Our team shared the ball, and I was open, the graduate transfer said. It just happened to be a good night, and I knocked down some shots and got out in the open court and scored a little bit.
The Hoosiers did most of their work in the first half, when they broke out to a 52-35 lead, and muddled through the second with a 37-33 advantage.
But despite ugly play after the break, IU put up 1.2 points per possession and shot 46.4 percent from the floor against while holding the Ospreys to 37.1 percent shooting.
We’ve noticed that a lot of teams, since we previously haven’t been shooting the ball that well, they’ve been packing it in a little bit, said junior guard Austin Etherington, who hit two 3-pointers Saturday. We knew that we didn’t want to overpenetrate, and we knew the extra pass and the one-more pass was going to be there. Tonight, obviously, we did that.
Note: IU freshman forward Devin Davis reinjured his ankle during the game and did not return. He will continue his routine rehab on the ankle, an IU spokesperson said.