Game MVP - D.J. White. All eyes were on Eric Gordon in his return to the court after a one-game absence, and he responded with five 3-pointers in a 5 ½-minute burst that put the Hoosiers up 14 early on. But White's 21-point, 11-rebound effort in just 24 minutes is worthy of top honors in the Hoosiers' 48-point win. White's consistency is what's stood out the most as of late – he recorded his sixth straight double-double in the win, easily the longest streak of his IU career. In fact, he is closing in on his season total of seven double-doubles from a year ago. While the point production have never been a problem for White, he's made his biggest strides with his work on the boards. He reached double figure rebounds for a seventh straight game, and has upped his season average to 9.3. He has an excellent chance to become the first IU player to average a double-double since Alan Henderson averaged 17.8 points and 10.3 rebounds in 1994.
Biggest Surprise… The size of the crowd. There wasn't much that happened in IU's 100-52 win that surprised any of the on-lookers, which made it that much more surprising that there was 13,143 fans in attendance. After all, most IU students had already left town with the close of first semester, and the weather was bad in Bloomington and even worse in other areas around the state. Despite the less-than-welcoming forecast, the lower bowl of Assembly Hall was pretty well filled, and there were many fans in the upper deck as well. While one might expect fans to figure out a way to make it to a match-up against Kentucky or any Big Ten foe, there were plenty of reasons for fans to stay away from a contest against Western Carolina in the midst of the holiday season.
What I Found Most Impressive… Indiana's intensity level. The Hoosiers have made it through the challenging part of the non-conference schedule, handling the likes of Southern Illinois, Georgia Tech and Kentucky despite playing short-handed on each occasion. The final three-game stretch of Western Carolina, Coppin State and Chicago State, meanwhile, figures to be little more than a weekly warm-up as IU gets ready for the start of the Big Ten slate next month. With that in mind, it would have been easy for the Hoosiers to go through the motions against Western Carolina and still come away with a 20 or 30-point win. But the Hoosiers didn't do that. The Hoosiers played hard throughout, forcing Western Carolina into 21 turnovers which translated into a 35-8 IU edge in points off turnovers. The Hoosiers pressured the ball on defense, attacked in transition on offense, and dominated its Southern Conference foe in every way imaginable.
What I Found Most Concerning… Lance Stemler had a solid all-around game with six rebounds and three steals, but the senior continues to struggle with his shot. Stemler missed all but one of his seven 3-point attempts and finished 2-of-9 from the floor overall. Thanks to the ability of Eric Gordon and Jordan Crawford to penetrate and the respect D.J. White commands when he gets the ball in the post Stemler gets plenty of clean looks from behind the arc, but he hasn't been knocking them down. Following his effort Saturday night Stemler's field goal percentage dipped to 40.8 percent overall and 29 percent from behind the 3-point arc, numbers that are fairly similar to his production a year ago (39 percent from the floor, 33 percent from the 3-point arc).
Turning Point: Gordon ripped off five 3-pointers in a 5 ½ minute stretch that put the Hoosiers up 14, 26-12, and Western Carolina would never get the lead into single digits again. Gordon got started with a 25-foot 3-pointer from the right wing to put IU up 9-4 at the 16:47 mark, and then slid over to the left wing on IU's next possession to put IU up eight. He then added three more in a two-minute stretch as IU overwhelmed its Assembly Hall foe.
"It certainly wasn't a lot of fun to sit through that." – Western Carolina Coach Larry Hunter.
"I set a goal for myself at the beginning of they year and (averaging a double-double) that's what I wanted to do." – IU senior D.J. White.
"Before I left, I was in the locker room today and I saw Michigan State was up on IPFW 49-41, Texas was playing Texas State, 42-40 – that's why you don't take these games for granted. You want to win them, but you want to win them the right way. I like the way we won the game." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
"I talked to Dr. Renk (about Holman's wrist) yesterday, they've done MRIs and stuff, but they have to wait for the swelling to go down, and then I think they'll do another one. They don't think there's a broken bone – they just think it's ligaments." – Sampson.
Indiana grabbed 50 rebounds Saturday, the most boards for an IU team since Sampson took over the program…D.J. White, who was honored before the game for scoring his 1,000th point in last week's win over Tennessee State, grabbed his 500th career rebound against Western Carolina…Indiana's 10 turnovers were a season-low, while Western Carolina's 21 turnovers was a season-high for an IU opponent…Indiana made 20 free throws and currently leads the nation with 19.9 made free throws/game…Brandon McGee and Kyle Taber both posted new career-highs in rebounding with seven and six, respectively.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Western Carolina
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