Bloomington, Ind. – No one could call this offensive effort offensive.
Rod Wilmont scored 20 points and four other Hoosiers reached double figures as Indiana pounded Western Illinois 92-40 at Assembly Hall. The 40 points marked the fewest Indiana has allowed in a game since it held Morehead State to 37 in 1978.
Indiana (5-2) committed only three turnovers in the contest, including just one in the game's first 31 minutes. In the Hoosiers' first six games, they had committed at least 16 miscues in each contest. Indiana finished with 19 assists, 10 steals, and 13 3-pointers in a game that was out of reach early on. It was also a confidence boost for a team that goes on the road for a huge game against Kentucky Saturday at Rupp Arena in Lexington, Ky.
IU Coach Kelvin Sampson thinks the blowout win and improved play is a result of his team getting more familiar with what the coaches want on the offensive end and a relentlessness on defense that didn't let up even after the game was well out of hand.
"Two things stood out tonight," Sampson said. "We didn't let off the pedal on defense. Irregardless of who was in the game, our defensive intensity was solid throughout…Then, we ran our offense. There's not a lot of ‘what do I do now, where do I go.' I think that has a lot to do with understanding and being confident and being aggressive."
Western Illinois had no answers to Indiana on either end of the floor.
"We pride ourselves on being a very good defensive team and we have been all year, but tonight we didn't put enough pressure on them," Western Illinois Coach Derek Thomas said.
While Wilmont led the way, the bench once again played a big role in IU's victory. Lance Stemler came off the bench to score 14 points and four 3-pointers, Joey Shaw contributed 14 and A.J. Ratliff reached double figures for the second straight game with 13. Indiana's bench outscored Western Illinois' 47-5, giving the Hoosier reserves a combined 96 points in the last two games.
Those contributions off the bench figure to continue, as Sampson said the team's playing rotation figures to remain in double figures. On Wednesday ten different players played at least 10 minutes, and Indiana also went with its sixth different starting lineup in seven games.
"So who do you sit and who do you play? I just say, let's play them all," Sampson said. "I'm not struggling to find a starting lineup. It just doesn't matter. They're all going to play about the same. Rod started tonight, and he hasn't been starting. He might start Saturday (against Kentucky) and he might not. It doesn't matter.
"We're not looking for a starting five - we have 10 guys and they're all going to play."
One of those players is Earl Calloway, the Hoosiers' point guard who was back in the starting lineup after coming off the bench against Charlotte. While Calloway finished with only two points on 1-of-4 shooting, he led the team with seven assists and also held Western Illinois' leading scorer, David Jackson, to six points on 2-of-8 shooting. Jackson entered the game averaging a team-best 18.6.
Sampson has freed up Calloway to be more aggressive on the offensive end and become more of a scorer instead of simply a distributor of the ball, and that's helped Calloway get back on track in the last two games.
"As a coach, you have to continue to adjust to your players," Sampson said. "They can't adjust to you. That's not how it works. We kept looking for something that would fit Earl. The answer isn't to bench him. The answer is to make it easier for him, because we need him on the court."
After hitting eight of its first 13 shots in the first half, Western Illinois missed 11 of its last 12, including all nine of its shots over the last 6:14. A 12-point Indiana lead ballooned to 20, 41-21, at intermission. Any thought of a second-half comeback was quickly erased when Wilmont came up with back-to-back steals and subsequent fast break baskets that pushed the lead to 26, 54-28, two and a half minutes into the second half.
It was clearly the best effort on both ends of the floor for the Hoosiers this season.
"I thought we were better in the second half against Duke than the first, I thought we were better against Charlotte, and I think we got better tonight," Sampson said. "Our key is to keep getting better. This isn't an ending point. We'll keep working at this and keep getting better."
D. White 6-10 0-1 12, Allen 1-3 0-0 2, Bassett 2-5 4-4 9, Wilmont 8-12 1-3 20, Calloway 1-4 0-0 2, Suhr 1-2 0-2 3, Ratliff 4-11 3-5 13, Stemler 5-11 0-0 14, M. White 0-2 1-2 1, Shaw 3-3 6-8 14, Keeling 1-2 0-0 2, Ahlfeld 0-0 0-0 0, Taber 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 32-66 15-25 92.
WESTERN ILLINOIS 40
Diakite 2-7 0-0 5, Taylor 2-2 0-2 4, Owens-Murrey 3-7 4-6 10, Jackson 2-8 2-5 6, Hunter 1-5 4-4 6, Smith 0-2 0-0 0, Stoudamire 0-4 0-0 0, Okeson 0-1 0-0 0, Gonzalez 1-4 2-2 5, Johnson 2-5 0-0 4, Bishop 0-0 0-2 0. totals 13-45 12-21 40.
3-Pointers: Indiana 13-31 (Stemler 4-8, Wilmont 3-6, Shaw 2-2, Ratliff 2-8, Bassett 1-3, Suhr 1-2, Calloway 0-2), Western Illinois 2-10 (Diakite 1-3, Gonzalez 1-4, Jackson 0-1, Stoudamire 0-1, Okeson 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 43 (Wilmont 10), Western Illinois 33 (Johnson 7). Assists: Indiana 19 (Calloway 7), Western Illinois 3 (Diakite 2). Turnovers: Indiana 3 (Wilmont, Shaw, TEAM), Western Illinois 18 (Taylor 4). Steals: Indiana 10 (Wilmont 2, Calloway 2, M. White 2), Western Illinois 1 (Jackson 1).. Attendance: 16,906. Officials: Steve Skiles, Terry Wymer, Lamont Simpson
Leathernecks No Match for Hoosiers, 92-40
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