MUNCIE, Ind.-Thirteen minutes into Saturday night's game against Ball State, it looked like Indiana was in for a fight. Then, Robert Vaden single-handedly took the fight out of the Cardinals.
Vaden scored 14 points in the final 6:53 of the first half, helping Indiana turn a 20-18 deficit into a 44-29 lead, and Indiana cruised to an 80-56 victory at Halton Arena.
Fresh off a career-high 22-point effort in Indiana's win over Butler eight days ago, Vaden was unstoppable in the opening half. He was perfect on his five first-half attempts from behind the 3-point arc, including three straight during a 13-0 Indiana run that put the Hoosiers up 31-20 with 4:42 left. Vaden wound up 6-for-6 on 3-point attempts and finished with his second straight 22-point effort to lead No. 17 Indiana (8-2) to its fourth straight win. Ball State (4-4), meanwhile, dropped its second straight.
"He played his basketball in the first half and carried us," said Davis. "This is the way we expect him to play."
Vaden is now a perfect 10-for-10 on 3-pointers during the last two games, and he's heeded the coaching staff's advice to be more aggressive offensively. On Saturday, that included 8-of-11 shooting from the field and a feeling that everything he put up was going in.
"(The basket) seems like it's as big as the ocean," said Vaden. "I was throwing it up, and it was going in. It felt good."
Vaden was picking it up just as IU's leading scorer, Marco Killingsworth, was picking up his second and third fouls on a single play. With Indiana leading 18-16, Killingsworth was called for a foul on an offensive rebound, and followed that up with some words for official J.D. Collins. Collins prompting called a technical on Killingsworth, which sent him to the bench for the remainder of the half with three fouls.
"I knew I had to do something, because I knew we were missing a lot of scoring with him out of the game," said Vaden.
But Killingsworth's absence did little to stall the Hoosiers' attack. In addition to Vaden's 17 first-half points, D.J. White scored 12 of his season-high 16 in the opening half. While White's contributions were important, it was Vaden that came up with just about every big play in the decisive stretch of the first half.
"(He played) like he always goes – he's one of the best players in the country," said Ball State Coach Tim Buckley. "I've always thought that.
"His game reminds me a little of (former Ball State Cardinal) Bonzi (Wells). When his team needs whatever it is, that's what he does. Whether it's shooting, or assisting, or rebounding. That's what he does. He's a very good basketball player."
White, meanwhile, made is first start of the season and wound up 6-of-8 from the floor in 23 minutes and also added a team-high nine rebounds. Davis said afterwards that he wasn't even sure White would be able to play because his 6-9 sophomore tore a ligament in his finger Thursday. But White was able to practice Friday and showed little if any signs of injury while anchoring Indiana's offense in the post.
"D.J. isn't back full speed, but he made some big shots," said Davis.
While White and Vaden led Indiana offensively, Indiana bottled up Ball State's leading scorer Skip Mills. Mills finished with a season-low 16 points on 3-of-14 shooting. Mills didn't score a basket until the final second of the first half, when his halfcourt heave at the buzzer dropped to cut Indiana's lead to 15.
But that basket did little to change the momentum. Ball State would get no closer than 12 in the opening minutes of the second half, and Marshall Strickland put the Cardinals away for good with a 10-point barrage of his own. Strickland hit a pair of 3-pointers and was fouled while making a third during 2 ½ minute stretch, and Indiana's lead quickly ballooned to 23.
After being held scoreless in the first half, Strickland finished with 18 in second half, including four 3-pointers. As a team, Indiana was 12-of-20 from behind the 3-point arc, and it shot 55.3 percent from the floor overall.
"They have an inside outside game," said Buckley. "They have guys that can score in the post and guys who can shoot the 3, and you have to pick your poison."
White 6-8 4-5 16, Killingsworth 3-6 1-3 7, Strickland 5-7 4-5 18, Vaden 8-11 0-0 22, Monroe 0-0 0-0 0, Wilmont 1-4 4-5 6, Suhr 1-3 0-0 3, Ratliff 1-2 0-0 4, Allen 1-3 0-0 2, Kline 0-0 0-0 0, Dinc 0-2 1-2 1, Ahlfeld 0-0 0-0 0, Taber 0-0 0-0 0, Calloway 0-1 2-2 2. Totals 26-47 16-22 80.
BALL STATE 56
Peyton 5-10 0-2 10, Mills 3-14 9-10 16, Bass 6-11 0-3 12, Acker 2-8 2-2 8, Ames 0-4 2-2 2, Lampley 0-0 0-0 0, Adler 0-0 2-2 2, Perryman 1-3 0-0 2, Kent 0-0 0-2 0, Howland 2-4 0-0 4, Nelson 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 19-54 15-23 56.
Halftime Score: Indinaa 44, Ball State 29. 3-Pointers: Indiana 12-20 (Vaden 6-6, Strickland 4-6, Wilmont 0-2, Suhr 1-3, Ratliff 1-2, Dinc 0-1), Ball State 3-10 (Mills 1-5, Acker 2-4, Perryman 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 38 (White 9), Ball State 27 (Ames 7). Assists: Indiana 17 (Vaden 6), Ball State 10 (Mills 4). Turnovers: Indiana 18 (Killingsworth 6), Ball State 12 (Ames 6). Blocks: Indiana 4 (White 2, Ratliff 2), Ball State 3 (Bass 3). Steals: Indiana 4 (Vaden, Wilmont, Ratliff, Dinc), Ball State 9 (Acker 2, Ames 2, Perryman 2, Kent 1, Peyton 1, Bass 1). Fouled Out: Indiana-Killingsworth. Ball State-Bass. Officials: Mike Sanzere, J.D. Collins, Terry Wymer. Technical Fouls: Killingsworth. Attendance: 11,500.
Vaden's Outburst Keys Hoosier Win
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