Entering Sunday's game against Ohio State, sophomore guard Robert Johnson was struggling.
Just 2-of-14 from the field through his first three Big Ten games, nothing seemed to be falling. Following Indiana's win over Ohio State, Crean cited Johnson not being 100 percent as the reason for his prior performances.
"He's not completely healthy, and he hasn't been," Crean said. "But he's working. You can't keep him out of the gym."
Johnson finished with 11 points shooting 4-for-9 from the field, including 3-for-6 from 3-point range, with just one turnover in Indiana's blowout victory. He was not made available to the media after the game.
In his first three Big Ten games of the season, he had just six points total and had yet to make a 3-pointer. He was also averaging 4.3 turnovers per game, which exceeded his assist per game average of 3.6.
Crean did not disclose the specifics on what's affecting Johnson's health, other than saying he's been cleared to play but "nowhere near 100 percent."
"I don't practice him every day fully, but it doesn't make any difference," Crean said. "He's out there, and we've got to keep working through it."
Johnson was inserted into the starting lineup after fellow sophomore guard sustained a knee injury during practice the week of the Rutgers game. As a result, he's in somewhat of a new role.
The loss of Blackmon Jr. hurt Indiana offensively, as he was its second-leading scorer at the time at 15.8 points per game. Crean acknowledged Johnson adjusting to Blackmon Jr.'s absence also could have played a role in Johnson's struggles.
"But we all moved better today," Crean said. "We miss James, let's not kid ourselves."
Johnson is one of many players who have taken advantage of the opportunity with Blackmon Jr. out for the year and improved. That improvement was something Crean mentioned often after Sunday's win.
"I'm proud that we never overpracticed these guys, but at the same time we got a lot better and Rob's a product of that," Crean said. "You never have to wonder if he's working on the things that he needs to get better at."
Crowd largest of season despite few students
Indiana University students were on winter break, which means the crowds at the first two Big Ten games for the men's basketball program were mostly dominated by fans who purchased the holiday ticket package.
Despite the absence of the students, Sunday's crowd was the largest at Assembly Hall so far this season.
Both balconies were filled the the max, and fans with seats in the lower bowl of the arena filled the section entirely despite adverse road conditions from the weather and construction.
The Hoosiers' next home game is against Illinois Jan. 19 at 7 p.m.
Five-star in-state recruiting targets in attendance
A handful of top in-state Indiana basketball targets were in attendance as Indiana blew out Ohio State:
- Five-star 2017 forward Kris Wilkes, North Central (Indianapolis), rated No. 17 in Scout Top 100 for his class
- Five-star 2017 guard Paul Scruggs, Southport, rated No. 30 in Scout Top 100 for his class
- Four-star 2018 guard Romeo Langford, New Albany (Ind.), rated No. 24 in Scout Top 100 for his class
- Three-star 2017 forward Zach Gunn, Hamilton Southeastern
- 2018 guard/forward Damezi Anderson, South Bend Riley