BLOOMINGTON – An angry Indiana team made basketball look easy on Monday night.
With OG Anunoby returning to form and the Hoosiers shooting a season-high 67 percent, they atoned for the disappointment of Saturday’s loss to Butler at the Crossroads Classic by putting together a 103-56 rout of Delaware State at Assembly Hall.
"Coming off a loss, moving forward, you want to immediately get better at some of the things you didn’t do well," said Robert Johnson, who had 16 points, seven rebounds and six assists. "Tonight, we put forth pretty much a 40-minute effort."
Anunoby, in his second game back from an injured left ankle, had 19 points, nine rebounds and a career-high four blocked shots. Thomas Bryant added 14 points and six rebounds, and James Blackmon Jr. finished with 18 points.
No. 16 Indiana (9-2) had drawn the ire of coach Tom Crean by giving up 47 percent shooting in its 83-78 loss to the 13th-ranked Bulldogs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. A little more than 48 hours later, the defense got back on track.
"I wasn’t happy with the numbers," Crean said. "(The players) weren’t happy with those numbers. They weren’t happy with the film, and they showed real good maturity and resiliency and responded in the short window that we had."
After the Hornets (3-10) drew within 22-17 midway through the first half, Indiana went on a 28-11 run fueled by deflections and fast-break offense and held a commanding 54-30 edge at halftime.
Led by power forward DeVaugh Mallory with 14 points and nine rebounds, Delaware State shot just 33 percent and never led.
Signs of the Hoosiers releasing pent-up frustration were evident throughout the contest.
Late in the first half, Juwan Morgan bounced a pass to Bryant, who caught the ball at the top of the key, took one step and launched off his left foot from the Big Ten logo painted just below the free-throw line. A wide-open lane allowed Bryant a thunderous right-handed jam.
Midway through the second half, Morgan dunked with two hands on an alley-oop delivery from point guard Josh Newkirk.
Anunoby’s defense provided a lift, as he emphatically swatted away Delaware State’s driving attempts. A potential all-Big Ten performer, Anunoby missed three games after getting hurt Nov. 30 and only had seven points and seven rebounds against Butler.
"The other day he played like it was his first game back in some period of time," Crean said. "Tonight he played like he’s capable of."
Not coincidentally, so did the Hoosiers.
They didn’t want to make too big a deal of handling an opponent picked to finish 12th in the 13-team Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. It was the first-ever meeting with the Hornets, although Indiana now has a 13-0 all-time record against the MEAC.
With a 25th straight home win, the Hoosiers moved halfway to the school record of 50. This one was cathartic.
"There wasn’t one point where I thought we weren’t playing extremely hard," Crean said. "Even when we made mistakes, we were playing really hard and competitively."