BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana put together one of its best second halves of the season on Saturday night, outscoring Grand Canyon 52-35 in the second half in a 94-66 victory for the Hoosiers.
After shooting 20 three-pointers and settling for quick jumpers early in the shot clock throughout the first half, Indiana (8-2) came out of halftime intent on getting the ball inside. The Hoosiers started the second half on a 12-4 run, spurred by eight points around the rim and seven from freshman James Blackmon Jr.
Blackmon, who leads all freshmen in the country in scoring, did it all, grabbing six boards and dishing out three assists to go with his team-high 18 points.
“We were 37 of 43 in the second half when we went through the paint,” Indiana Coach Tom Crean said. “Too many times in the first half we didn’t do that, we took jumpers without the ball getting into the paint.”
The Hoosiers shot considerably better in the second half, going 18-of-35 (51.4 percent) from the field.
“I don’t have a problem with the attempts. There will be some nights we shoot 40 to 45 threes,” Crean said. “I’m not concerned about that, as long as it goes through the paint, and as long as they’re rhythm shots and as long as we’re making people move, then those are good plays.”
Indiana got the most complete game out of its frontcourt this season, especially from Troy Williams, who scored 14 points, grabbed eight rebounds and had zero turnovers.
“Really, really excited about the contribution of Troy Williams to play a game like that when he’s being aggressive and not have a turnover,” Crean said.
Hanner Perea also had 11 points and seven rebounds for the Hoosiers down low.
Grand Canyon (4-6) was led by guards DeWayne Russell and Royce Woolridge who scored 16 and 18 points respectively.
Stopping dribble penetration has been an issue for Indiana all season, and it continued to be a weakness against Grand Canyon. The Antelopes stayed in the game in the first half with Russell consistently breaking down Indiana’s guards off the dribble, leading to 12 first-half points.
“I think the biggest thing is stay in front of the ball better, don’t overreact to the ball. . There’s no question we have to do a better job of keeping our chest in front of the ball and knowing personnel,” Crean said.
Grand Canyon head coach Dan Majerle, former Phoenix Sun player and NBA All-Star, attended Central Michigan University from 1984-1988, graduating just one year earlier then Indiana head coach Tom Crean, who also graduated from CMU in 1989.
“Grand Canyon is going to be a good team, he’s an outstanding coach,” Crean said of Majerle. “I’m proud of what he’s doing as a coach.”
Grand Canyon: After sitting out last year due to transfer, junior DeWayne Russell made a big impact for the Antelopes in his first game eligible this season. Russell added three rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block to go with his 16 points and played a game-high 37 minutes.
“I am really happy with how he played. . He can really pressure the ball, he can penetrate, he can do a lot of things,” Majerle said of his Russell’s season debut.
Indiana: The Hoosiers recorded their lowest turnover percentage ever under Crean, with just four turnovers in the game and zero in the second half.
Grand Canyon hosts Bethune-Cookman Monday night.
Indiana travels to Indianapolis to play Butler next Saturday in the Crossroads Classic.
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