BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana moved the ball as well as it has all season and posted a season-high 17 assists in an 89-68 win against North Florida on Saturday at Assembly Hall.
All those extra passes, coach Tom Crean said, led to wide-open looks. And those open looks, in rhythm, led to one of the best shooting nights in terms of efficiency that IU (7-2) has had this season.
"When you're focusing on just continuing to make the next pass and you get your game in rhythm, then those good things happen," Crean said. "When the ball moves like it does, it's just really good-looking basketball in the sense of the shot may not go, but you're getting great movement, and all of a sudden it's contagious."
The 3-point shooting seemed to be.
A team that had struggled all season from the perimeter went 5 of 9 in the first half as it burst out to a 52-35 lead over the Ospreys (5-6).
"I'm very positive with that with this team as long as we're taking good shots," Crean said of his group, which is shooting 28.8 percent on threes for the season. "You got to work at it. That's why we try to get as much extra shooting as we can. We try to shoot when we're fresh, we try to shoot in the middle, we try to shoot when we're tired. We try to do all those different things, same thing with the free throws, and it's fun to watch guys' confidence go up."
Although IU went 1 of 9 in the second half as it stumbled to the finish against North Florida, the Hoosiers should come away with plenty of that confidence. When this team passes as well as it did Saturday -- IU got its first four baskets off assists and seven assists in the first eight minutes -- it stacks smart basketball on top of overwhelming athleticism.
"This team can be a very good rebounding team, can be a team that gets to the foul line," Crean said. "We want to get it in the post. We want to drive. You've got to get to the foul line. We're one of the leaders in the country in free-throw shooting, and we want to make sure we're not giving that up.
"But when the ball's swinging like that, yeah, that's a very good thing."