Men at work versus boys.
That was the feel of Indiana’s 93-54 victory against Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday night at Assembly Hall as the Hoosiers (10-1) rebounded from their first loss of the season.
Since the Mountaineers (4-5) didn’t pose any threat, Tom Crean and company could concentrate on some of the finer points of their game as they begin the climb back up the rankings after falling to No. 6 after an overtime loss to Butler.
As far as the actual competition was concerned, the Hoosiers separated from Mount St. Mary’s with a 27-3 run that spanned from the final minutes of the first half and into the second half.
When Victor Oladipo (14 points) dropped his second 3-pointer of the game to cap that run, Indiana led 57-29.
Even though the win was expected, some aspects of the victory still produced the “wow” factor. Indiana shot 70.6 percent from the field for the game, its fourth-best performance in school history. One more made field goal would have broken the record of 71.2 percent set against Michigan State in 1988.
The Hoosiers weren’t bad from the 3-point line, either. They shot 75 percent, hitting nine of 12.
Ironically, Indiana shot 63.2 percent (12 of 19) from the free-throw line.
“Coming off a loss creates a different level of energy for your team,” Crean said. “I thought our guys did an excellent job. We moved the ball exceptionally well. A big key for us was our great ball reversal. Twenty-seven assists is outstanding.”
Some hard practices after a loss paid dividends.
“What happened in the past is in the past,” said Indiana guard Remy Abell, who made all five of his shots from the field and finished with 12 points. “We were going to make that extra pass, and we started getting easy baskets.”
After the loss against Butler, Crean said his team had to rebound better. Indiana out-rebounded Mount St. Mary’s 41-18.
Rebounding obviously was a huge issue in practice since Saturday’s loss.
“It was not fun,” said forward Will Sheehey, who tied center Cody Zeller for team high-point honors with 16. “As far as what happens in practice, we keep it within ourselves. But it showed tonight how hard we practice.”
Christian Watford, who had 15 points, eight rebounds and went 3 of 5 from the 3-point line, said the Hoosiers made a lot of progress rebounding in practice.
“But to actually do it in a game feels good,” he said.
The game also marked the return of senior forward Derek Elston, who had surgery on his left knee for torn meniscus Oct. 26. Elson received a standing ovation from the crowd when he came into the game at the 9:59 mark of the first half. He scored two points, had two rebounds and one block in nine minutes.
“Sometimes I felt that I’m not out there, that people don’t remember me,” Elston said. “That standing ovation made me feel special. It showed me maybe I do matter to this program.”
Elston was not expected to play for another week, but he said Crean told him during Wednesday morning’s practice that he looked ready.
However, while Elston is back, Crean has lost the services of guard Maurice Creek due to a foot injury suffered in practice. Although Crean said there was no timetable for Creek’s return, he didn’t expect him to be out of action very long.
Mount St. Mary’s guard Rashad Whack was the game’s high scorer with 17.