As the level of competition has risen in conference games, so has the play of Indiana guard Jordan Hulls.
In five conference games, the sophomore is among the league leaders in all of the major shooting categories. He's first in free throw shooting at 100 percent (10-of-10), eighth in field goal shooting at 58.8 percent and tied for 10th in 3-point shooting at 50 percent.
Over the past six games, Hulls has been one of IU's top and most consistent scorers, hitting double figures in each game and averaging 12.8 points.
More important, perhaps, he emerged in Saturday's win over Michigan as a player who could make big shots to win games, a quality that's been scarce for the Hoosiers over the past couple of seasons. After not attempting a shot in the first half, Hulls answered Michigan's second half runs with three huge 3-pointers.
"Hulls' three daggers, if those go in and out, all of a sudden it's anybody's game,'' Michigan coach John Beilein said. "Those were three daggers in an 11-point game. We know he's a great shooter. One of them was against the zone, the other one the guy was right in his face, and the third one we just had a little bit of poor leverage on the side he was on.''
IU coach Tom Crean has been urging Hulls to shoot more. He said Hulls passed up shots he should have taken in the first half, but more than made up for it in the second half.
"They really came at a great time," Crean said. "That's exactly what we need from Jordan Hulls. That's what we see from him in practice and that's what our team expects from him."
Crean noted that he played Hulls for 35 minutes Saturday, the most of any Hoosier.
A reporter, perhaps jokingly, asked Hulls if he was waiting until the second half to unleash dramatic shots that would win the game.
Hulls laughed and responded: "I wasn't waiting. We're up 15 points, you know, and I didn't take a shot in the first half. I'm the kinda guy that doesn't care if I score 20 points or two points, if we're winning ballgames, then that's fine with me. Just doing whatever I need to help this team win."
Hulls said the Hoosiers need to have the attitude in every game that once they get ahead, they will dig in, particularly on defense, and not let the other team come back. He said, though, when it comes to taking big shots to decide the close ones, he needs to be one of the players who embrace that role.
"It's just part of being one of the leaders on the team – me, Verdell, Christian, these different guys who people maybe look for us to make big plays," Hulls said. "We have a lot of confidence in other people to make big plays, as well, but tonight I was able to get some open shots through the offense. And taking those shots, I'm fully comfortable with that."
Hulls becoming consistent scorer and leader
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