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Tuesday, Feb. 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Zeller, Abell lead Bison romp

 IU v. North Dakota State

There was no sophomore slump Monday night. Not for IU in its second game of the season and certainly not for center Cody Zeller or guard Remy Abell.

The second-year players led IU to an 87-61 home victory against North Dakota State to push IU’s record to 2-0 on the season.

“There’s nothing bigger than energy and toughness, and it’s got to be there constantly,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “I thought once we figured that out ... we played pretty well.”

Zeller led the Hoosiers with 22 points on 8-for-12 shooting and nine rebounds. He was also 6-for-10 from the free throw line with all but one of his attempts coming in the first half, when both teams were mired in shooting slumps.

His early free throws helped IU stake a lead it would never relinquish as the team’s shooting recovered to the point of posting a 48.3 shooting percentage for the game.

After the game, Crean revealed Zeller was sick before the game and was no sure bet to play Monday night, something the center never mentioned himself.

“He probably should have stayed home in bed,” Crean said. “He’s just got that type of toughness. He didn’t have a great defensive game, and he knows that, but he was tough to deal with on the offensive end.”

A fastbreak off a missed NDSU free throw that ended in a Zeller dunk brought the crowd to its feet late in the first half, and IU took a 42-29 lead into the half.

In the second half and after early threats from the Bison that cut the Hoosiers’ lead to single digits, IU began to pull away. A fastbreak dunk from Zeller followed by a block at the other end and 3-pointer by junior forward Will Sheehey allowed the Hoosiers to turn a 15 point lead into a 20 point advantage in a matter of seconds.

Then, it was another sophomore’s time to shine.

In a period of 80 seconds in the second half, Abell scored eight consecutive points for the Hoosiers, helping the team keep pace with a handful of Bison jumpers.

The sophomore guard finished with 14 points, tied for second on the team and was a perfect 5-for-5 on the night from the field.

Abell has yet to miss a field goal this season, hitting all seven of his attempts, including five from beyond the arc.

Crean said Abell worked on shooting with his high school coach in the summer, and the results show.

“That was definitely something big for me,” Abell said. “I know I can get to the rim, but my teammates and coaches have really helped me work on my jump shot.”

In addition to his shooting prowess Monday, Abell also ran the offense at times. He and senior guard Jordan Hulls both took charge for freshman starting point guard Kevin ‘Yogi’ Ferrell at times, as Ferrell had an off night, in Crean’s estimation.

Senior forward Christian Watford, coming off 15 points and a career-high 15 rebounds in IU’s opening win against Bryant, forced shots throughout the evening and missed several open looks when he had them. He finished with six points.

On the other hand, freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell filled much the same role Watford had in the first game, playing center in a small, speedy lineup the team employed for much of the second half.

He tied Abell with 14 points of his own.

“There’s conventional, there’s unconventional and then there’s what we did tonight,” Crean said. “We played. It didn’t become about matchups as much as it became about putting guys out there and saying ‘Let’s go.’”

All told, 30 of IU’s 45 second half points came from the bench.

“I don’t look at very many of these guys like they’re bench players,” Crean said. “I look at it right now like we’ve got at least seven guys with room to grow.”

The Bison were led by 16 points from forward Marshall Bjorklund, who racked up four personal fouls while playing physical defense on Zeller for much of the game.

“(Teams are) going to try different strategies, try to out-physical me, out-physical some of our other guys, try to get us in foul trouble,” Zeller said. “We’ve just got to keep our composure.”

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