IU closes non-conference with Kennesaw State

It will be difficult to gauge what Indiana will get out of a game against 3-9 Kennesaw State Sunday but the Hoosiers need to continue building momentum and learning to play together.

Indiana has one final tune up today before opening Big Ten play on New Year's Eve against Illinois.

Unfortunately, it's hard to tell just how much the Hoosiers will be able to get from a game against a team like Kennesaw State.

The Owls are 3-9 on the season and two of those victories were against Warren Wilson and Truett-McConnell. The other victory was against Chattanooga.

Kennesaw State, out of Kennesaw, Ga., plays in the Atlantic Sun. That's the same conference as a previous IU opponent this season, North Florida. IU beat North Florida, 89-68.

IU coach Tom Crean is taking nothing for granted. His team is coming off a 13-point victory over Nicholls State on Friday, a game where the Hoosiers were favored by nearly 28 points.

In the postgame interview Friday, Crean was asked about Kennesaw State.

"They've been in some good games, played a tough, challenging schedule, and I think the bottom line is we've got to build on what we did,'' Crean said. "We've got to have great team defense. There were certain things (against Nicholls State) where because we were playing at the pace we were playing at we gave up a couple of things. I don't know if we'll be able to do that as much (against Kennesaw).

"But the bottom line is we want to have great team defense in this and we want to continue to make this game go at a fast pace, and if it becomes a situation where it's a little slower there we want to try to speed it up, and I think it's going to be the same for everybody.''

Indiana is averaging 81.5 points per game while Kennesaw State scores at a 63.7 clip. That average ranks 330th in the nation. Another area where the Owls have struggled is shooting the ball. Kennesaw State is shooting just 40.4 percent from the field.

The Hoosiers need to put together a good effort as they won't play for nine days before opening Big Ten play on New Year's Eve at Illinois.

Yogi Ferrell, who is averaging 16.1 points in a team-high 30 minutes per game, said it's important to have a strong showing against Kennesaw State. He said it will be big for momentum.

"We definitely want to go out pretty strong really this week, and then have a couple days of practice and see what we need to work on and get ready for a tough conference to play in,'' Ferrell said.

Crean said he's expecting a good showing from the Owls.

"They're going to come in here and they're going to look like a Big Ten/SEC/Big East type of team with their bodies, with their athleticism,'' Crean said. "They played a lot of tough games. They have a coach that's coached at all those levels, be it Notre Dame, be it Penn State, be it Florida. He certainly knows what players look like.''

Tipoff Sunday is at 12 p.m. at Assembly Hall and the game will be televised on the Big Ten Network.

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