BLOOMINGTON – Indiana beat Nicholls State 79-66 Friday, but from the look on coach Tom Crean’s face, the buzz in the building and the play on the court, that didn’t seem too clear.
The Hoosiers (9-3) struggled too much against the Colonels (3-6) at Assembly Hall.
The Colonels, who are ranked 321st out of 351 Division I basketball teams in offensive and defensive efficiency, looked good during the first eight minutes thanks to IU blunders.
There’s things certainly we’ve got to clean up, Crean said. There’s no question about that. We’ve got to clean up our rim defense. We’ve got to clean up our awareness.
The Hoosiers committed seven turnovers before the 12-minute mark, made just three baskets and couldn’t muster a lead until 12:45 remained in the half.
IU experimented on offense and defense, which might have contributed to the miscues.
It tested out its full-court press, which it had not used this season, and worked in a 1-3-1 defense and a lot of different rotations off the bench.
In a game like this where the other team is going to be very deliberate in their offense and try to shorten the game, we certainly wanted to figure out how to lengthen it, Crean said. We just kept mixing it up. Any time you have a situation like that, it’s not going to be as smooth, but it certainly gives us something to work with.
Luckily for the Hoosiers, the Colonels had the highest foul rate in the country entering the game – and it showed early. IU got into the bonus with 11:32 left in the first half and hit the double-bonus with 7:48 to go as the Hoosiers took a 37-22 halftime in part thanks to hitting 18 free throws.
The game remained smooth as sandpaper for the first 10 minutes in the second half, until sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell decided to take over.
From 9:02 left in the half to the final 4:54, IU did not miss a shot and committed just one turnover. The Hoosiers scored 14 points in that span and looked dominant offensively.
Ferrell, who sparked the run with a pair of assists and a layup, finished with 16 points, a season-high eight assists, three rebounds and four turnovers in 27 minutes.
I felt like we did a good job of getting the ball out quick when they scored and just pushing the ball and finding different outlets, he said. We kind of just flowed, really.
IU committed a season-high 20 turnovers and allowed Nicholls State to shoot 45.9 percent from the field. Despite shooting 62.5 percent in the second half, IU was outscored 44-42.
We’re playing faster, said senior forward Will Sheehey, who had 14 points. We’ll correct the turnovers. Twenty is obviously too high for our team, but we’re playing at a different pace.
We’ve been practicing at a different pace too, so we’ll get it fixed.