Indiana wasn't about to let another match-up with Charlotte go down to the final seconds.
With last year's disputed last-second loss still fresh on their minds, the Hoosiers used 10 first-half 3-pointers to open a 10-point halftime lead and suffocating defense throughout to cruise to a 71-54 win over Charlotte Monday night at Halton Arena in Charlotte.
Indiana improved to 6-2, while Charlotte dropped its second in a row and slipped to 5-5.
While much of the pre-game talk was centered on Charlotte's win a year ago on Brendan Plavich's disputed halfcourt buzzer-beater and the return to the court of D.J. White, it was the Hoosiers' perimeter attack that did in Charlotte.
Thirty of Indiana's 40 first-half points came on 3-pointers, as the Hoosiers knocked down 10-of-14 first-half attempts from deep. Six of those first-half 3-pointers came in succession during a 3:19 stretch that saw an 18-15 Charlotte lead turn into a 13-point margin for the Hoosiers, 33-20. Marshall Strickland and Rod Wilmont hit a pair of 3-pointers during the run, while both Robert Vaden and Marco Killingsworth added a ball from behind the arc as well.
Ultimately Indiana would add two more buckets to cap a 22-2 Indiana flurry that Charlotte was never able to recover from.
"Our guards really made shots, but our big guys, once they settled down, made great passes out," said IU Coach Mike Davis.
Those big guys were Killingsworth and White, who both had big evenings. Killingsworth finished with a team-high 17 points and five rebounds, while White contributed eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes in his first game back on the floor. Davis said afterwards that he intended to play White five minutes in each half, but wound up going with him a little bit longer in the second half after the 6-9, 243-pound sophomore got into a rhythm.
"For (D.J.) to have only one practice (Sunday) tells you a lot about his ability as a player," said Davis.
Charlotte did cut the lead to six twice in the second half, but Indiana had answers each time. After the 49ers cut the lead to 50-44 with 13 minutes remaining, A.J. Ratliff hit another 3-pointer to start an 11-2 Indiana run to open the lead to 15, and Charlotte would never threaten again.
The third-ranked 3-point shooting team nationally heading into the game at 45.6 percent, Indiana finished 13-of-23 (57 percent) from 3-point range against Charlotte and shot 28-of-53 (53 percent) overall. Marshall Strickland was 4-of-6 from 3-point range and finished with 12 points, and Rod Wilmont added nine points off the bench while going a perfect 3-of-3 from deep. Robert Vaden added another four 3-pointers in six attempts, as Indiana had five different players convert at least one 3-point attempt.
While Indiana's ability to knock down shots was big, so was its effort on the defensive end. Aided by the occasional ill-advised shot by Charlotte, and more specifically DeAngelo Alexander, Indiana limited the Atlantic-10 Conference foe to 27 percent shooting overall (17-of-64) and 37 percent (7-of-19) from 3-point range. Alexander was the only Charlotte player to score in double figures, but he was 3-of-12 from the floor while scoring 11 points.
"The intensity on defense has to be there every night," said IU Coach Mike Davis.
Indiana also had a big effort on the boards against one of the country's best rebounding teams. Charlotte entered the game owning a +7.7 rebound margin over its first nine foes, but Indiana wound up winning the battle of the boards, 41-38.
Seventeen of those rebounds came from the starting backcourt of Marshall Strickland and Lewis Monroe, who had career-highs of nine and eight, respectively. Charlotte was led on the boards by Curtis Withers, who finished with 10 rebounds while being limited well below his season average with just eight points.
"For our guards to get 17 rebounds is unbelievable," said Davis. "If they can rebound the basketball it takes a lot of pressure off Marco and D.J."
Vaden 5-10 0-0 14, Killingsworth 7-12 2-5 17, Strickland 4-8 0-0 12, Monroe 2-3 0-0 4, Ratliff 1-2 0-0 3, White 4-11 0-2 8, Allen 0-1 0-0 0, Kline 0-0 0-0 0, Suhr 0-0 0-0 0, Wilmont 3-3 0-0 9, Calloway 2-3 0-0 4. Totals 28-53 2-7 71.
Nance 3-8 2-2 8, Alexander 3-12 2-2 11, Withers 4-12 0-2 8, Goldwire 1-7 4-4 7, Baldwin 2-10 0-0 6, Coleman 3-7 2-3 8, Bennett 1-8 0-0 3, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Jamison 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 0-0 3-5 3. Totals 17-64 13-18 54.
Halftime Score: Indiana 40, Charlotte 30. 3-Pointers: Indiana 13-23 (Vaden 4-8, Strickland 4-6, Wilmont 3-3, Killingsworth 1-2, Ratliff 1-2, Monroe 0-1, Allen 0-1), Charlotte 7-19 (Alexander 3-6, Withers 0-1, Goldwire 1-5, Baldwin 2-4, Bennett 1-3). Rebounds: Indiana 41 (Strickland 9), Charlotte 38 (Withers 10). Assists: Indiana 15 (Monroe 4), Charlotte 9 (Goldwire 4). Turnovers: Indiana 15 (Vaden 4, Killingsworth 4), Charlotte 9 (Goldwire 3). Blocks: Indiana 5 (Monroe 1, Ratliff 2, White 2), Charlotte 2 (Alexander, Withers). Techical Fouls: Indiana Bench.
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