Take a deep breath: A critical stretch of the season is about to begin for Indiana.
The Hoosiers dominated the University of New Orleans 79-59 in their last cupcake game of the season Monday night at Assembly Hall. Indiana's next three games, all away from home: Georgetown, Nebraska and Michigan State.
It wasn't a pretty game by any stretch, but Monday night's win sends the Hoosiers (10-2) into Christmas feeling good about themselves, nevertheless. They've won three straight games following a loss to No. 4 Louisville, and they avoided a letdown following Saturday's emotional win over No. 23 Butler.
Yogi Ferrell led IU with 17 points and five rebounds on 5-of-7 shooting, and freshman James Blackmon Jr. added 14 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Blackmon's effort came after his worst outing of the season against the Bulldogs, a game in which he scored only five points on 2-of-12 shooting.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea was solid again with 12 points, six rebounds and four blocks in 25 minutes. He has blocked eight shots in the last two games.
The Hoosiers shot 55 percent from the field (29-of-53) and outrebounded New Orleans 40-36. Collin Hartman had seven rebounds off the bench.
New Orleans was committed to playing a very slow pace in the first half, and for awhile, it was effective. The Privateers regularly wasted the shot clock away in an effort to slow the Hoosiers down and stay in the game for as long as possible.
"I think it was good because we weren't prepared for that as much as seeing it from other teams," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "It was really good because it will happen. It happens in this league. With this year's team, if we can get consistent depth, we have got to be able to get the tempo faster when somebody wants to take time off the clock, whether we're man or we're zone. So it was very good training for us tonight to build for what we could see in the next couple weeks."
IU struggled to hit shots early, but eventually got going by getting to the foul line. New Orleans reached the double bonus at the 9:30 mark of the second half. The Hoosiers led by 22 points at halftime, and never looked back.
The Hoosiers are off until Saturday when they play Georgetown at Madison Square Garden.