Bloomington, Ind. – Indiana was having a big problem with Western Michigan early on, but Coach Kelvin Sampson had a small remedy.
After spotting Western Michigan a three-point lead at halftime, Indiana surrounded D.J. White with a four-guard lineup for the duration of the second half. That move helped create 12 Bronco turnovers in the final 20 minutes, 50 second-half points for the Hoosiers, and a 77-69 victory for Sampson's squad.
Indiana improved to 7-3 with the win, while Western Michigan slipped to 4-7.
Leading the charge was Earl Calloway, who scored 16 of his game-high 20 in the second half to go along with four steals. Calloway got started early in the second half, scoring on a short jumper in the paint and on a fastbreak layup in the first 42 seconds of the period to put IU on top, 31-30.
Calloway said the decision to attack the basket was something Sampson stressed at halftime. In the opening half 13 of IU's 30 field goal attempts were from behind the 3-point arc.
"We had an emphasis to go in and attack (in the second half)," Calloway said. "They didn't have a shot blocker. The main thing was attack the basket for everybody."
Calloway wasn't the only player to go on the offensive in the second half. Armon Bassett scored all 12 of his points in the second half, while Rod Wilmont added 11 of his 14 as well. With the Hoosiers hanging onto a 61-55 lead with 5:27 left and the game still very much in doubt, Wilmont scored in a 3-pointer to push the lead to six, and then scored on a fastbreak layup that was started by a D.J. White block that gave the Hoosiers their first double-digit lead, 66-55, with 4:26 left. The Broncos would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
While the Hoosiers got plenty of point production from the backcourt, the decision to go with four guards was made for defensive reasons. Sampson believed his team was being hurt by ball screens at the top of the key in the first half, and wanted to switch on the screens in the second half.
"In the second half, defensively, I thought we were good," Sampson said. "Anytime you turn a team over 21 times, you're doing something good."
But there was an obvious benefit on the offensive end as well. After missing 20 of their 30 shots in the first half, the Hoosiers shot 58 percent in the final 20 minutes while also earning 15 trips to the free-throw line.
"I think we hav ea good shooting team," Sampson said. "There wasn't a shot we took in the second half we're not capable of making…it's not the offense as much as..it's contagious."
Western Michigan center Joe Reitz said there was a noticeable difference from IU's offense in the second half.
"They executed a lot better in the second half," said Reitz, who finished with 14 points and 12 rebounds. "We got lost a little defensively, and they went on a run."
Indiana's decision to go with four guards left a couple of regular contributors on the bench. Lance Stemler, Joey Shaw and Xavier Keeling combined to play 25 minutes in the first half, but didn't see any action in the second half. Stemler suffered through his third straight sub-par shooting game, going 1-of-4 from the floor and 0-of-3 from 3-point range. In his last three games, Stemler is 1-of-15 and 0-of-10 from 3-point range.
"We scored 50 points and we held them to 38 percent shooting in the second half, so I kind of liked how the second half was going without them," Sampson said.
With that said, Sampson expects Stemler to be back on the floor for Friday's matchup against IUPUI, and says it's just a matter of time before he regains his shooting stroke. Stemler connected on 18 of his first 36 3-point attempts this season before going into his recent shooting slump.
"Lance is really close," Sampson said. "When a kid is missing shots like that, you tend to press...It's not something you worry about. I've had a lot of kids go through this and get through it and he will, too."
Stemler might have struggled, but Indiana did get a big night from D.J. White. White had his third double-double of the season, finishing with 16 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks.
"D.J. is a load down there," said Reitz, who was matched up with White most of the night. "He'll be in the NBA some day. He got me a couple of times (with blocked shots) early. He's a great player."
While the Hoosiers did pick up their second straight win, they were tested by the Broncos, who are winless on the road this season. Western Michigan was also the first team to out-rebound IU this season, owning a commanding 43-31 edge on the glass, including a 16-8 margin on the offensive boards.
Sampson said he thought his team was a step slow against the Broncos, something he attributes partially to Sunday night's contest against Southern Illinois.
"I think the physical and emotional investment of Sunday night, it was hard for these guys to hit the trigger," Sampson said.
D. White 6-12 4-6 16, Stemler 1-4 0-0 2, Wilmont 5-13 0-2 14, Ratliff 6-11 0-0 13, Calloway 5-11 10-11 20, Bassett 5-7 1-2 12, Suhr 0-0 0-0 0, M. White 0-1 0-0 0, Shaw 0-1 0-0 0, Keeling 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-61 15-21 77.
WESTERN MICHIGAN 69
Hershberger 1-2 0-1 1, Reitz 6-13 2-5 14, Redell 5-11 3-4 16, Kool 4-11 8-8 18, Gary 2-6 0-0 5, Hess 0-1 0-0 0, Fracalossi 3-7 0-0 7, Workman 0-0 0-0 0, Drews 0-1 0-0 0, Ricks 3-8 0-0 7, Cloutier 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 24-61 13-18 69.
3-Pointers: Indiana 6-23 (Wilmont 4-10, Ratliff 1-5, Bassett 1-2, Calloway 0-3, Stemler 0-3), Western Michigan 8-23 (Redell 3-5, Kool 2-7, Fracalossi 1-5, Gary 1-3, Ricks 1-2, Drews 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 31 (D. White 12), Western Michigan 43 (Reitz 12). Assists: Indiana 11 (Wilmont 3, Calloway 3), Western Michigan 7 (Cloutier 2, Fracalossi 2). Blocks: Indiana 6 (D. White 5), Western Michigan 0. Steals: Indiana 12 (Calloway 4), Western Michigan 3 (Redell, Kool, Gary). Halftime Score: Western Michigan 30, Indiana 27. Officials: Reggie Greenwood, Steve Olson, Terry Wymer. Attendance: 12,038
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