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The Journal Gazette

Friday, December 02, 2016 8:57 pm

Notebook: Paint touches a key for IU, Crean

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON — One of the numbers Indiana coach Tom Crean loves to track is paint touches. 

That amounts to the number of times the ball gets into the lane on offense, whether through a pass or a dribble, even if for only a moment.

The Hoosiers like to shoot 3-pointers, but Crean knows better looks are created when the defense is forced to collapse on the lane.

That's why, when Indiana opened Friday night's 83-60 win over SIU-Edwardsville with six empty possessions, Crean didn't worry.

"We've got tremendous numbers when we go through the paint," Crean said. "So we want to make sure that that ball as much as possible is touching the paint. One reason that I wasn't that concerned about our slow start was the ball was going through the paint at the beginning of the game. And as long as that's happening, things are good."

It was an off night for the Hoosiers' perimeter players.

James Blackmon Jr. had 10 points and six rebounds. Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson each were limited to five points.

So when it came to making up for that missing offense from the outside, backup center De'Ron Davis was helpful. He had 14 points on Friday and continues to get into better shape.

"I think you're seeing it," Crean said. "I'm sure it's getting better. We've had him on a hockey shift schedule. Longer tonight. And it just worked out that way. We've got to keep pushing it. But he played well, and I think it will continue to grow as he gets healthy and as he gets into even better shape and he understands how hard he has to play for how long."

Anunoby prognosis: Crean expanded on Anunoby's ankle injury. "I don't think it's long term," Crean said. "He's doing all the stuff that he's got to do, and he's just got to heal. We'll get a little more of an indication tomorrow. But we're certainly not banking on him. I wouldn't rule him out, like, officially. I can't do that on Sunday. Every ankle responds differently. They're following the procedures, the icing and (keeping) the foot up. Those are the guys that usually come back a little quicker."

Sunday's tipoff: The Hoosiers' game against Southeast Missouri State is scheduled for 4 p.m. In the offseason some schedules originally had the game at 6 p.m. It'll be televised on ESPN2.