WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana cruised through its last game before Christmas break, pounding Florida Atlantic 88-52 in front of 17,472 at Assembly Hall to improve to 11-1.
The Hoosiers trailed 6-4 in the opening three minutes, but then reeled off a 20-2 run to take a 16-point lead and basically never looked back. They took a 25-point lead with 4:04 to go and a 55-25 advantage at halftime, shooting 61.8 percent from the field. The Hoosiers took it easy in the second half and got somewhat sloppy, shooting just 7-for-21 (33.3 percent) from the field and committed nine turnovers, but still never led by fewer than 28 points.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Sophomore center Cody Zeller had another in a string of dominant performances against demonstrably weaker competition, scoring 24 points and knocking down 12 of his 13 free throws. Senior forward Christian Watford hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 17 points. Junior guard Victor Oladipo had 16 points and eight rebounds, and senior guard Jordan Hulls added 10 points. Freshman forward Hanner Mosquera-Perea got his most extensive playing time to date, grabbing 10 rebounds and scoring four points, though he also committed three turnovers.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Indiana faced another opponent it was flatly better than on every level. The Hoosiers shot 50.9 percent from the field even after a cold second half and made 26 of 27 free throw attempts. They outrebounded Florida Atlantic 41-28, scored 36 points in the paint, 25 off turnovers and 16 on second-chances. They held Florida Atlantic to 33.9 percent shooting from the field. Senior guard Greg Gantt scored 25 points on 9-for-21 shooting, but he accounted for just short of half the Owls’ points and field goals, as no one else reached double digits. Swingman Richard Morrow had eight points, but he was the only other player with more than five.The Owls were 3-for-15 from beyond the arc.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Indiana has survived a grueling week of practices that have mostly included two-a-days since Saturday’s loss to Butler. Albeit against obviously inferior competition, they managed to shake off the loss and continue to operate at a high level even while the practices have been intense. How much any of this will matter won’t be understood for at least 10 more days, however. The Hoosiers have one more non-conference game against Jacksonville before the Big Ten season-opener against Iowa on Dec. 31.
WHO SAID WHAT: Tom Crean
“The game was excellent, no question about it. Our guys were locked in and have had a great week. They’ve had a long year. Outside of four or five days, they’ve been number one in the country for a very long time and I think they’ve handled it extremely well.”
“They really deserve a break, but the great thing about it is that they’re not playing like they need one. a lot of teams this time ofyear look like they need a break, but our team doesn’t look like that at all. Our team is full throttle right now and only going to get better because we are adding guys.”
On Cody Zeller
“I thought Cody was outstanding. I was asked today, ‘Is Cody meeting my expectations or exceeding them.’ I couldn’t answer it because I don’t look at it like that. It’s always about, ‘Is he developing? Is he getting better daily? Like with all of them, there is a place you think they can get to eventually, but there is a place you have to get to every day. Cody is doing such a fantastic job, and it was great to see him play the way he did tonight.”
On Hanner Mosquera-Perea
“I thought he played well. I reminded him that you actually have to catch it before you dunk i because I think he had a couple SportsCenter plays in mind before he caught the ball. He’s still feeling his way through things, but what he was able to do in that period of time was pretty impressive. He’s tough, and he’s physical and he brings a different demeanor to our team.”
On Zeller’s free-throw shooting
“He changed a couple of things mechanically. There were a few things we worked on, but that’s mostly just him. He spent a lot of time on it today. After the walk through was ending, we had a couple of guys who were doing post work and we had a couple of guys who were at the line. He was with three other guys that would shoot two free throws at a time while he would shoot five. he went 34-for-35 on that span and they all looked the same, just like tonight’s did.”
On having IU’s only missed free throw
“Gosh dang it.”
On what he’s done to fix his free throws.
“I’m shooting it higher,” Zeller said. “Just like I told you at Butler. Just shooting it higher.”
On whether or not he’s feeling comfortable
“The last few games, I have made some mistakes. I have talked to the coaches and my teammates, and they gave me some advice. They have been pushing me to keep going. That has helped a lot. Today, I felt more comfortable going for the ball. I am getting ready.”
“We can’t have any let-ups, no matter what the score is. We can’t play to the score. We have to keep playing at a high level so we can get better in games. I believe that when we do that, we will get better down the road. We have to play at a high level for 40 minutes.”
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