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Indiana uses second-half offensive explosion to blow by Austin Peay

Indiana struggled defensively, but the Hoosiers used a remarkable second-half shooting surge to blow out Austin Peay on Monday. Here are five things you should know.

Indiana struggled defensively at different points in the night, but the Hoosiers exploded offensively in the second half and blew by Austin Peay 102-76 on Monday night at Assembly Hall. Here are five things you should know from Monday's game.

1. ABSURD SECOND-HALF SHOOTING: Indiana made 15 straight shot attempts spanning more than 12 minutes in the second half to run away from Austin Peay. That kind of a streak is beyond impressive at any level of basketball, especially considering the Hoosiers shot a number of 3s during the stretch. Indiana shot 80.8% (21-of-26) in the second half and 67% (40-of-60) in the game.

"It's hard to find much criticism when you make 15 straight shots," said Indiana coach Tom Crean. "I'm not sure I've ever been a part of 15 straight shots. I think it came because of really good movement of the ball, and our spacing was much better tonight."

The Hoosiers (2-0) made 8-of-10 shots from beyond the arc in the second half and 16-of-27 for the game, two shy of tying a school record they established against Minnesota last season.

Indiana outscored Austin Peay 40-12 during the stretch when the Hoosiers made 15 straight field goals. 

"Nobody was aware," Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell said of the shot streak. "That's just a product of our work every day."

Consider this: Indiana scored 102 points, but that number could have been much higher had the Hoosiers played a better first half. Indiana had 20 total turnovers and missed several wide open shots in the first half. They may not have challenged Butler's 144 points from the other night, but it could have been 20 or 25 points higher. That's kind of scary when you think about it.

"Loose and reckless is bad, and we had a little bit of that in the first half," Crean said. "But loose and efficient is where we're at our best."

2. BUT THE DEFENSE: We know Indiana can and will score, and score in bunches. That's nothing new. The question remains, though, can the Hoosiers improve enough on defense to challenge for a Big Ten title and beyond this season?

If I had to answer that question today, it would be a "No." But I don't have to answer that question today, and the Hoosiers have time to improve on that end. But they absolutely have to.

Indiana's ridiculous shooting coupled with Austin Peay's porous defense covered up Indiana's D. But the Hoosiers gave up 76 points to an Austin Peay team that scored only 41 in its season-opening loss to Vanderbilt. The Governors shot 48% from the field on Monday night. 

"We've got to have better rim presence, and we know that," Crean said. "We're trying to adjust to the rules. It was a very physical game tonight, and we had some fouls on the front line. We've got to do a better job of defending high-low, to not let it in as easy as it was." 

James Blackmon really struggled on the defensive end -- especially in the first half -- and he started the second half on the bench as a result. Blackmon still seems to lack the focus and commitment required to defend at the collegiate level, and that's a problem. Austin Peay seemed to go right at Blackmon for stretches in the first half, regardless who he was guarding. 

The Hoosiers have put together good stretches of defense through the two exhibition games and the the first two regular season games against Eastern Illinois, but stretches aren't good enough against the best college teams. Indiana's offense is so good that just marginal and consistent improvements on the defensive end will be good enough to make the Hoosiers a very dangerous team.

3. FRESHMAN STRUGGLES: Thomas Bryant had 11 points and six rebounds in 21 minutes, but Indiana's other two freshmen had their share of first-year struggles on Monday night. That was especially true of Juwan Morgan, who hasn't fared well in his limited minutes so far this season. Morgan had a negative +/- in 7 minutes even though he didn't attempt a single shot. Morgan was 0-of-1 from the foul line, with one rebound and two turnovers.

When Morgan came off the bench in the first half, he looked a bit lost. He tried a number of crossovers against the Austin Peay press, and turned it over for a dunk. Morgan has actually played less than O.G. Anunoby in the first two games, something I didn't at all expect coming into the season.

Anunoby had two points on a rebound putback in nine minutes. He also had a turnover when he traveled on the perimeter.

4. ZEISLOFT GROSSES OUT FANS, THEN BREAKS OUT: Nick Zeisloft was quiet in Indiana's two exhibition games and its regular season opener. He certainly made his presence known on Monday.

Zeisloft dislocated his right pinky finger in the first half, and it was so gross looking that the Assembly Hall crowd let out a collective noise of disgust when it was shown on the big screen. Zeisloft went to the bench, had the joint popped back in and then the finger taped, and returned to the game. He made four 3-pointers after the injury to his shooting hand and five in total, finishing with 15 points on only seven shot attempts. 

After the game, Zeisloft said his injured finger was "fine." 

"I wasn't gonna try to fix it," Crean said. "Just make sure he wasn't dizzy and be there to help him if he got dizzy and not to panic because he looked at it. But they fixed it right away, so obviously it looked a lot worse than it was. It didn't affect his shooting. That's good news. I was definitely excited when they said he was fine. We don't wanna lose anybody, but we don't wanna lose that guy."

5. FERRELL ON #PRILLERTIME: It's not exactly news that Indiana fans -- and specifically students -- love sophomore forward Tim Priller. They've been cheering him since the day he arrived on campus, even though he rarely plays. The hashtag #PrillerTime has become a thing on Twitter, and the students were as loud as ever when Priller entered the game on Monday night.

Yogi Ferrell was asked about the fascination with Priller after the game, and he was just as puzzled as many of us are about Priller's popularity.

"I don't know why they love Tim so much. They just do," Ferrell said. "Nick showed me this, about how they have in the paper, all-time greats of IU. They have Isaiah Thomas, Calbert Cheaney, guys like that. And then there's Tim Priller. You wouldn't expect to see him, but he was there. For the crowd to get hype for Tim like that, Tim loves it."

Ferrell himself may end up in that all-time IU greats story sometime in the future. He moved into 20th on Indiana's all-time scoring list on Monday night with his 22 points (8-10 FG), 9 assists and 6 rebounds.


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