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The Journal Gazette

  • Associated Press Indiana forwards Collin Hartman and Juwan Morgan surround Eastern Michigan's James Thompson IV on Saturday in Assembly Hall.

Saturday, November 25, 2017 1:00 am

Indiana 87 E. Michigan 67

Hoosiers win 3rd in row

IU uses improving depth to pull away in 2nd half

COREY ELLIOT | Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON – The second half against Eastern Michigan could prove to be the blueprint for the rest of Indiana's season – but for now, the Hoosiers are just happy to get another win against a quality opponent.

Robert Johnson scored 18 points, Josh Newkirk added 17 points and Indiana won its third straight with a 87-67 win over Eastern Michigan on Friday.

After a first half in which the Eagles gave the Hoosiers everything they had and then some, the squad Indiana hopes to be over the next four months began to take shape.

Indiana relied on its depth for a dominating second-half performance.

“I thought for the first time all season, we just dove into the bench, regardless of what we were thinking prior to going in. And it was a good step in the right direction for our team,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “That's what we did in the second half tonight, was to get guys in there you trusted (who) were just going to play as hard as they could, and do what you ask them to do.”

Indiana used a 19-3 run, highlighted by Justin Smith's fast-break dunk, over a six-minute stretch in the second half to put Eastern Michigan away.

Freddie McSwain Jr. added 10 points and nine rebounds for Indiana (4-2), and De'Ron Davis scored 11 points.

“Everybody is getting comfortable with the offensive style, the defensive schemes,” Newkirk said. “We've just been practicing a lot. I think everybody is feeling more comfortable understanding that we're all helping each other. I think it's coming along.”

Elijah Minnie had 20 points and seven rebounds for Eastern Michigan (4-1).

Despite a four-minute scoreless drought, the Eagles had a brief four-point lead in the first half and were within five points, 42-37, of Indiana at the half.

“The start of the second half we were a little lethargic on offense, which results in easy buckets for Indiana,” Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. “Once they got up nine (points), they started to play a little more comfortable.”

Big picture

Eastern Michigan: The Eagles' next five opponents have a combined record of 10-13. Eastern Michigan won't play another Power 5 team until it travels to Syracuse on Dec. 27.

Indiana: After losing its season opener to Indiana State and a tough road loss at then-No. 23 Seton Hall, Indiana needed to string some wins together to create momentum before hosting top-ranked Duke on Wednesday.

Back in action

Indiana's Collin Hartman took the floor for the first time this season. Hartman, a fifth-year senior and fan favorite among his fellow students, suffered a knee injury in September 2016 that required surgery.

Just before this season, Hartman suffered a minor injury that sidelined him in each of Indiana's opening five contests. Hartman played just six minutes Friday and scored three points.

Hot, cold

Minnie scored 17 points in the first half, with 12 coming from beyond the 3-point line.

He scored just three points the second half.