Indiana Daily Student

Hoosiers open regular season with 100-72 win

Troy Williams and Devin Davis secure the ball in the Hoosiers' season-opener against Chicago State on Friday at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers won 100-72.
Troy Williams and Devin Davis secure the ball in the Hoosiers' season-opener against Chicago State on Friday at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers won 100-72.

After the team’s first two exhibition games of the season, IU freshman forward Noah Vonleh began to take some criticism for his 0-for-8 shooting performance from the free-throw line.

From the start of Friday night’s 100-72 IU men’s basketball victory against Chicago State, Vonleh put those critics to rest.

After two straight field goals to start the night’s offense for the Hoosiers, Vonleh stepped to the line to make his first of five free throws on a perfect night from the charity stripe.

But because of the new touch foul rules in the NCAA this season, Vonleh’s trips to the line were just a handful of the 55 shots the Hoosiers took at the line Friday night.
Of those 55, IU sunk 45 to set a school record that was previously 43.

IU Coach Tom Crean said numerous times before the start of the season that he’s had referees in for the bulk of his practices to prepare his team for the new type of game they would face.

“The free throw record, that’s phenomenal when you really think about how long the Indiana basketball program has historically been known for not only the free-throw shooting but the free-throw attempts and making more than our opponents attempt,” Crean said.

“It’s always been a big deal for us to get to the line, especially with the rules the way they are now and the fact that we’ve got to be a better shooting team.”

The Hoosiers reached the double-bonus with 11 minutes 53 seconds left in the first half, and they forced the Cougars into 17 team fouls in the first half, creating 23 chances at the line.

On the other end, the Hoosiers adjusted well to their first regular season contest with the new rules, committing just seven fouls in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The Hoosiers went 18-for-23 from the line while the Cougars attempted just eight in the first half.

After IU’s lead was sliced to 11 with three minutes 54 seconds left in the half, IU scored the final eight points in the half including four free throws.

The Hoosiers used their length to dominate Chicago State, blocking eight shots in the game’s first 20 minutes.

The Cougars went into the locker room shooting just 23.1 percent from the floor, while the Hoosiers blocked more shots than they did in a game all last season.

Indiana’s length also led to a 62-36 rebound advantage on the night, but IU’s 13 blocks were the second most in a game in school history, just one behind a game at Penn State in 2000.

Playing hard on the defensive end and being a powerful force around the hoop is something the Hoosiers have focused on a lot in practice, sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell said.

“We’ve got a lot of slashers and a lot of guys who like to crash and play above the rim,” Hollowell said. “We’ve still got a young team. We’ve still got a lot to learn with our length. We’re going to use it to our advantage.

“In practice we’re getting after it, and it carries over to the game, so I think we just need to keep peaking in practice and going after each other, and I think that’ll help us out.”

Hollowell set a career-high with four blocks to lead the Hoosiers. This went along with his career night with 16 points.

Vonleh and freshman forward Devin Davis each swatted three shots.

Opportunities for both free throws and blocks were high with the fast-paced nature of Friday’s game.

Both teams combined for 140 shots and 56 personal fouls.

With a game that often saw each team sprinting to keep up with the other in transition, Crean said he liked that his freshmen got so many possessions of experience and were able to settle into their first college game so quickly.

“I think when you have a team like ours you want to get as many possessions as you can, and I think the flip side of that is that it gives us the experience,” Crean said.

Davis, who completed a solid first game with nine points and 10 rebounds, said he enjoyed his first game on Branch McCracken Court and played at a pace he was used to back in high school.

“I like to play fast paced and just get after it, so if we’re playing Chicago State or any team, we like to just get up and down and just run,” he said.

Follow reporter Nathan Brown on Twitter @nathan_brown10.

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