More than six minutes remained and fans were already calling for Tim Priller.
The sophomore forward fan-favorite, who averages 1.8 minutes, usually doesn’t come into the game until the under-two minute mark in blowout wins.
But with a 33-point lead — in an eventual 105-60 win against McNeese State — the IU student section wanted something to cheer for.
Priller entered the game with 1:46 to play. He immediately grabbed a rebound, then another. On the second, he was fouled and went to line for two free throws.
When the first shot went through the net, the Assembly Hall crowd roared louder than it had all night — and maybe all season.
Although Priller’s contribution of two points, two boards and two steals was well above his average, it had little effect on the final outcome as the Hoosiers dominated the Cowboys on Saturday night.
“I thought our guys played an impressive game from start to finish,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “We did a lot of good things tonight ... and I thought everyone contributed.”
Crean said defensive effort and ball movement on offense was key in the win.
IU accomplished a season-low in turnovers, with nine, while forcing McNeese State into 19. Thirty IU points came from takeaways.
IU sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. attributed this to an aggressive mindset and sticking to the scouting report.
Blackmon, who scored a game-high 24 points on 9-of-17 shooting, was one of five Hoosiers who scored in double digits against the Cowboys.
Freshman center Thomas Bryant showed marked improvement on the stat sheet from Wednesday night’s IPFW game, when he had just four points and two rebounds.
On a perfect 7-for-7 shooting night, he collected 18 points and nine rebounds Saturday night.
Crean said the fact that Bryant didn’t show up on the stat sheet as much a few nights ago didn’t concern him. He knows his team is better when Bryant plays well, but praised his overall performance and said he’s still improving.
“He’s worked hard,” Crean said. “We got some extra work in with him today before walk-through, which was good.”
Bryant gave his team a boost at the beginning of each half, crashing the boards and being aggressive at the rim on the offensive end.
He scored on back-to-back plays to open the first half. Then, at the start of the second, sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. bounced a pass to a cutting Rob Johnson, who handed it to Bryant under the basket.
After one dribble to dodge his defender, Bryant went up with it for the bucket and foul.
Other statistic leaders included senior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell with seven assists and junior forward Troy Williams with seven rebounds.
IU is nearing the end of the non-conference portion of its schedule. IU is off for a week before competing against in-state rival Notre Dame at the Crossroads Classic on Dec. 19.
Blackmon said that game has already been talked about.
“Coaches talked about how (tonight) is practice for Notre Dame, so we wanted to come out and make a statement a little bit,” he said.
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