Bloomington – Last Friday revealed that Indiana's new-look basketball team can pound a Division III team. On Tuesday, Tom Crean's bunch showed it can win ugly against a Division II squad.
Malik Story scored 10 of his game-high 15 points in the second half and Indiana used an 14-4 second-half run turn a one-point game into a double-digit contest as the Hoosiers topped Bemidji State, 72-54 in front of an announced crowd of 13,052 at Assembly Hall.
The game was the Hoosiers' final tune-up before the regular season gets underway on Saturday against Northwestern State.
"I tried to stress to the team that the competition level goes up, not down," Crean said afterwards. "That was a great learning experience tonight."
While Tuesday night's win gave IU a perfect 2-0 during the exhibition season, many of the things that went well in Friday's 103-71 win over Anderson were missing Tuesday. Indiana shot only 43.1 percent for the game (25-of-58) and 58.6 from the free-throw line (17-of-29). The Hoosiers pushed the pace and scored 29 fast-break points against Anderson, but that number dipped to 10 against Bemidji State.
But it was more than enough against Bemidji, which is coming off a 6-21 record from a year ago.
Indiana appeared to take control of the game with a late first-half flurry that gave Crean's squad a 37-26 lead at intermission. But Bemidji State opened the second half with a 10-0 run to cut the margin to one, 37-36, with 16:37 left.
"We cut the lead to one and I'm sure Indiana wasn't happy about that," said Bemidji State Coach Matt Bowen, a former IU basketball manager under Bob Knight in the early 1990s.
Indiana's retort was swift, and it came in large part from a quartet of bench players. Story, Daniel Moore, Brett Finkelmeier and Kyle Taber sparked the 14-4 run that pushed the lead to 10 with 10:54 remaining, and Bemidji State was able to get no closer than nine the rest of the way.
Crean said afterwards that his starting backcourt wasn't playing with the necessary level of energy, which prompted the wave of subs in the second half.
"We found some guys that came off the bench that came in and changed the momentum," Crean said.
Story made 6-of-9 shots, including 2-of-4 from behind the 3-point arc and also pulled down seven rebounds in 19 minutes. Moore finished with five points and three assists in 18 minutes, while Finkelmeier returned from a broken nose in the first half to play seven second half minutes.
Taber, meanwhile, was making his return to the court after missing the last three months following knee surgery. Crean said the senior has been going all out in practice since Sunday, and he finished with four points, nine rebound and a block in 15 minutes of action. His play helped the Hoosiers to a decisive 47-33 edge on the glass.
"It was a good felling to be back on the court with my teammates, contributing in any way I can," Taber said.
While Taber's return gives the Hoosiers some much needed size up front and at least a degree of experience, the fifth-year senior will be asked to do even more as he continues to regain his conditioning and get up to speed with the rest of his teammates.
"We're going to be asking for a lot more out of him than has been asked in the past," Crean said. "If you're on the team you have to bring value in helping us to win."
Taber, Moore, Story and Finkelmeier all did that Tuesday night in a game that Crean thinks will serve as a valuable lesson as the team embarks on a schedule that would challenge the most experienced of squads, let alone his team that was assembled virtually from scratch in the last six months.
"Energy has to be king," Crean said. "We have to win the hustle game. We're not going to be about how picture perfect we are on offense, it's not going to be about the alley oop dunks. Someday we'll get back to that. But if we don't play with energy and heartfelt passion…we're not going to be in many games."
Pritchard 3-10 6-9 12, Roth 1-3 0-0 3, Jones 3-11 2-2 8, Williams 4-6 3-4 12, Dumes 2-10 3-6 8, White 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 2-3 1-2 5, Finkelmeier 1-1 0-0 2, Schutz 0-1 1-2 1, Barnett 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 1-1 0-0 2, Story 6-9 1-4 15, Jobe 0-1 0-0 0, Taber 2-2 0-0 4. Totals 25-58 17-29 72.
BEMIDJI STATE 54
Cassidy 1-3 0-0 2, Baskow 4-10 0-0 8, Haake 2-7 7-8 12, Gibson 0-0 0-0 0, Faribanks 5-15 2-4 14, Hall 0-3 0-0 0, Eastman 0-2 1-2 1, Lindstrom 0-0 0-0 0, Zajic 2-7 1-2 6, Johnson 1-2 0-1 2, Wruck 0-0 0-0 0, Tesdahl 3-5 3-4 9. Totals 18-54 14-21 54.
3-Pointers: Indiana 5-16 (Story 2-4, Roth 1-3, Williams 1-3, Dumes 1-5, Jones 0-1), Bemidji State 4-20 (Faribanks 2-9, Haake 1-2, Zajic 1-5, Cassidy 0-1, Eastman 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 47 (Pritchard, Taber 9), Bemidji State 33 (Johnson, Cassidy 5). Assists: Indiana 10 (Moore 3), Bemidji State 12 (Gibson 3, Lindstrom 3). Turnovers: Indiana 14, Bemidji State 17. Blocks: Indiana 4, Bemidji State 4. Steals: Indiana 8, Bemidji State 6. Officials: Bert Smith, Steve Welmer, Jim Burr. Attendance: 13,052. Halftime Score: Indiana 37, Bemidji State 26.
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