No. 25 Indiana keeps it simple in 89-57 rout of Northwestern
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana coach Tom Crean has simplified his game plan.
He expects the Hoosiers to move the ball, move without the ball and play with confidence.
The combination is working perfectly. On Saturday, Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell scored 17 points, had six more assists and led No. 25 Indiana to an 89-57 blowout over Northwestern, the Hoosiers’ 12th consecutive victory.
“The more simple we can make our passing and the more active we can be in our cutting, the better we are. And we’re moving the ball, there’s no question about that.” Crean said. “Really the last week, we’ve done a good job of being on time, on target and that’s so crucial.”
There’s little to quibble with right now.
The Hoosiers (17-3) are off to their first 7-0 Big Ten start since 1992-93. They’ve won consecutive conference games by more than 20 points for the first time since January 2007.
Indiana has matched its longest winning streak since Crean’s arrival in 2008 and is one win from matching the school’s longest winning streak since Bob Knight was fired in 2000.
Players are having fun with it, too.
During a pregame ceremony to honor Ferrell as the school’s new career assists leader, the senior guard smiled. He smiled again when he got knocked to the court during the game and was even laughing during the postgame news conference.
“He (Ferrell) gets a pretty good amount of assists, I don’t know if you’ve heard,” Max Bielfeldt joked after scoring 13 points and grabbing four rebounds.
The Wildcats (15-6, 3-5) found out it’s a major pain to play these suddenly hot Hoosiers.
Alex Olah scored 19 points and Tre Demps added 17, not nearly enough to prevent a third straight loss.
“They have a lot of guys who can put pressure on you with their driving ability and everyone can shoot,” coach Chris Collins said. “I mean they’ve made 32 3s in the last two games. It’s incredible shooting.”
That was far too much for Northwestern.
Indiana scored the first 10 points, used an 11-0 run late in the first half to extend the lead to 41-22 and after the Hoosiers opened the second half by scoring the first six points, they led 49-26.
Northwestern never led, couldn’t get closer than four points in the first half or 18 in the second half.
Indiana’s shooting touch didn’t cool off during a four-day break. After making a school-record 19 3s in Tuesday night’s 34-point victory over Illinois, the Hoosiers were 13 of 28 from beyond the arc Saturday. “There hasn’t been a team to slow them down yet. So, yeah, our defense was exposed and so have the six other defenses that played them. They scored 103 in their last game, tonight we held them to 89,” Collins said.
The Wildcats are facing their toughest stretch of the season. After losing at No. 7 Maryland and Indiana this week, they face No. 11 Michigan State and visit No. 9 Iowa next week.
BY THE NUMBERS
How dominant were the Hoosiers on Saturday? They shot 52.6 percent from the field, 46.4 percent on 3s, outrebounded Northwestern 40-23 and limited the Wildcats to 5 of 15 on 3-point attempts. Indiana has won three straight home games by 25 or more points for the first time since 1987-88.
Northwestern: Allowed a season high 89 points and endured its most lopsided loss of the season. ... Indiana native Bryant McIntosh had four points, six rebounds and six assists. He needs nine more assists to break Tim Doyle’s season school record (157), which was set in 2006-07.
Indiana: Ferrell has 559 career assists and moved into the school’s top 10 in scoring by passing Eric Anderson (1,715 points). Ferrell has 1,720. ... Bielfeldt made one 3 in the game, giving him 12 this season. That’s one more than he had in first three seasons at Michigan.
Northwestern hosts No. 11 Michigan State on Thursday.
Indiana visits Wisconsin on Tuesday.