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The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Hoosiers dominate Bearkats

Men's Basketball

For the second time in his 99 games in cream and crimson, senior forward Christian Watford began the game on the bench Nov. 15. Once he was in the game, though, he quickly made up for lost time.

Watford led IU with 23 points as the Hoosiers rode strong runs to begin each half to a 99-45 blowout win against Sam Houston State at Assembly Hall in their second of four games in the Progressive Legends Classic. The 54-point win was the fourth-largest margin of victory in school history.

“We just wanted to make a little energy change, and he played with as much energy as anyone on the court tonight,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “I think it showed up in his numbers. I’ve got to think he feels good about the way he played.”

The lineup switch worked out rather well for the man replacing Watford as well.

Junior forward Will Sheehey, in his 19th career start and first of the season, chipped in 18 points, the next most on the team after Watford.

“I look at Will as a starter whether he’s starting or not,” Crean said. “I think Will’s the kind of guy that he can do whatever you ask him to do.”

Sheehey had the first score of the game with a fastbreak dunk off a steal by junior guard Victor Oladipo that brought the crowd to their feet. It started a 16-2 run by the Hoosiers to open the game.

“The defensive energy really picked it up for us, and we were able to get a couple of buckets and an and-one at the free throw line,” senior guard Jordan Hulls said. “It is definitely something we’ve been focusing on, playing 40 minutes.”

Six points in that opening spree came off a pair of three-point shots by Hulls. His third three-pointer of the night came with 7:02 remaining in the second half and made him the 44th player in IU history to score 1,000 career points. Watford is also in that group.

Crean, already planning to take the guard out of the game for rest, raised Hulls’ hand in front of his teammates as the crowd cheered the Bloomington native’s name.

“I had no idea what was going on when Coach raised my hand up,” Hulls said. “It’s pretty cool, and I couldn’t have done it without my teammates. I’m not really into personal accolades, but it’s a pretty cool club to be a part of.”

Already leading 52-25 at the half, IU went on another run, this one 19-5 to start the second half.

“We can’t just play 20 minutes,” Hulls said. “We’ve got to go out and be focused and with as much energy as we did in the first half.”

To counter the uptempo nature of the Bearkats, IU employed smaller lineups — units without sophomore center Cody Zeller, who Crean said has battled illness all week  — for several stretches of the game, particularly when SHSU’s 6-foot-11, 255-pound center Michael Holyfield was on the bench. Even when in the game, he was a non-factor, scoring only a single point.

SHSU was led by guard Paul Baxter’s 9 points as the Bearkats did not have a single player in double-figures. The Hoosiers had five.

Each team took 53 shots from the field. IU made 30 to SHSU’s 16.

SHSU did lead IU in foul shots though, 31-12, as IU attempted 44 free throws on the night. Watford was a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe.

IU has now won three consecutive games by 25 points or more for the first time since the 1979-80 season.

“You work hard to have fun in games like tonight,” Sheehey said. “We all enjoy it obviously. We have more energy than usual, and I think tonight we did.”

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