After injuring his foot in the season's first exhibition game and seeing limited minutes in his first two games back, Indiana sophomore D.J. White made his return to the starting lineup for head coach Mike Davis.
White, playing in his third game of the season, earned his first start and helped Indiana knock off the in-state Ball State Cardinals, 80-56.
In his return White picked up 16 points in 23 minutes of play, both season highs. White had scored just 14 points in the previous two games while averaging just 14 minutes. White's return to the starting lineup was even in doubt after injuring himself again in practice.
"The thing that really impressed me about DJ tonight was he tore a ligament in his shooting hand Thursday, and we didn't know he could play tonight," said Davis. "But he practiced yesterday, and tonight he played well."
White has returned just in time for the start of the Big Ten season, where he hopes to help IU in its quest for a league title. Last season White averaged 13.9 points, 4.4 rebounds and 2.1 blocks in Big Ten play. White's return adds to firepower Davis can bring off the bench.
"We're a deep basketball team and the last game it was Marco (Killingsworth) and (Robert) Vaden (doing the scoring)," said Davis. "Tonight if you would have told me that Marco was going to score seven points, last year, and be our go to guy I would have worried about it. We have guys that can step up now and make plays. When he was out, we missed him for sure, but we had some guys that could step in and make some plays. I thought D.J. did a great job of doing that."
His teammates are equally excited to have him back, as his presence in the post adds to Indiana's already explosive offense.
"Coach told us in practice if somebody is hot you have to look for them, and he runs plays for guys that have the hot hand," said sophomore Robert Vaden. "I think that's the story. If Strick is hot I look for him, if Marco is hot in the post, if DJ is hot in the post, we all look for each other. I think that's the sign of a good basketball team."
White's play also helped when Indiana saw Marco Killingsworth sent to the bench with three fouls – including one technical – in the first half. White stepped in down low as he did all of last season and scored 12 first-half points.
The return of White also anchors what has truly become a "pick your poison" offense for the Hoosiers.
"We have 16 games left, eight at home and eight on the road," said Davis. "I'm happy because our guys understand our system and we're playing so well together. For us to lead the country in 3-point field goal percentage and field goal percentage and to be second in assists, it tells you our guys are unselfish and making the extra passes."
D.J. White Back in Starting Lineup
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