BLOOMINGTON – Indiana started slowly but sprung to life for a 79-39 exhibition game win against Hillsdale on Monday at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers opened the exhibition matchup 1 of 5 from the field en route to a 13-2 deficit but shot 11 of 20 (55 percent) the rest of the half.
After a slow start that featured six turnovers and just five shots in the opening seven minutes, IU put together a 25-3 run to make it 27-16 with 3:16 left in the half.
"It almost couldn't have worked out any better," IU coach Tom Crean said. "You don't want to be down 13-2 and have your rim look like it's got a bubble on it, but this team has got to learn. … If they're going to be great that it happens with defense and rebounding."
IU held Hillsdale to 36 percent shooting from the field, and after their early turnover spree, the Hoosiers committed just two turnovers to nine from the Chargers in the half.
"I felt like we weren't flowing together very well. Offensively, we were just missing shots, but defensively I felt like we just weren't there," sophomore point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell, who scored a team-high 14 points, said of the slow start. "I feel like the big thing that changed was communication. When we first got out there, no one was really talking to each other, leaving guys on islands. You can't win leaving guys on islands. You need to have a collective unit."
Hillsdale put together a stretch of its own to cut the lead to 31-24 with 12.4 seconds remaining. IU coach Tom Crean called a timeout to set up a final play, and Ferrell drove right and hit a fall-away layup.
Despite some sloppy play, the Hoosiers had a 33-24 advantage at the break.
The Hoosiers were hot at the start of the second half, as well, and went on a 20-4 run until a pair of free throws by Hillsdale forward Kyle Cooper with 11:18 left in the game.
IU held Hillsdale to 24 percent shooting from the field and 22.2 percent on three-pointers in the dominant win. The Chargers were fresh off an 85-84 overtime loss to Toledo on Sunday in which they made 14 threes.
"It's going to start on defense for us," freshman forward Devin Davis said. "For the freshmen, when we first get out there, just to be able to slow down and gather ourselves and focus on what the team needs."
The Hoosiers finished 53.2 percent from the field and were 6 of 15 on threes. After shooting less than 50 percent on free throws in the first exhibition game, IU made 23 of its 35 tries from the line and improved by nearly 20 percent.
Crean was particularly pleased with the Hoosiers' 38 points in the paint and 26 off turnovers.
"We were phenomenal tonight when the ball hit the paint, whether on the post-up or whether on the drive," he said. "I thought that had a ton to do with our identity starting to come alive."
Senior forward Will Sheehey finished with 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting, including two three-pointers in 21 minutes of play. He suffered a leg injury early in the second half, and while it did not appear to be serious and he returned to the bench, Sheehey was held out the rest of the game.
"We're trying to figure out what happened there," Crean said. "He's sore, but he'll go through the process of the doctors being with him. I don't anticipate – I'm hopeful there's not anything that would be traumatic there."
Freshman forward Noah Vonleh finished with eight points and nine rebounds. Eleven players scored for the Hoosiers on Monday, and nine had at least four points.
"We got some very good contributions from different people," Crean said. "You want to look at a lot of different combinations and the way it works out inside of the game. I thought that those combinations were good. We really didn't have to sub because a guy stuck out the wrong way. We had to sub for fouls a little bit and sub for fatigue, but we didn't have to sub because somebody stuck out because they couldn't keep up with the level, couldn't keep up with the pace.
"I think that's really important going forward."