BLOOMINGTON, IN—Sunday's in-state showdown between Ball State and Indiana was not much of a contest. The Hoosiers caught fire midway through the first half and led the Cardinals by 31 points at halftime. Five players hit double-figures for Indiana (6-0) as the top-ranked team in the country dismantled the inexperienced Cardinals 101-53. Indiana was 38-63 from the field for the game including an impressive 22-34 (64.7%) in the first half.
Ball State (2-2) completed a discouraging week after losing by 20 points at Worthen Arena to Indiana State Tuesday.
#1 For a Reason: This could've been a letdown game for Indiana. The Hoosiers were coming off an overtime victory against Georgetown in the championship of the Legends Classic Tuesday. Most fans were probably looking right past Ball State, and ahead to Tuesday's game against North Carolina. Many of the students did not make it back from Thanksgiving break in time to catch the contest against the Cardinals as Will Sheehey observed, "Were there even any students here? I didn't see any tonight."
However, Tom Crean probably doesn't have letdown in his vocabulary. HIs sideline demeanor was similar to that of a Big Ten showdown and helped light a spark for the Hoosiers in the first half. "I think the culture is such where every practice has the intensity of a game. Everything that we do has that type of intensity. Obviously, it starts with Coach [Crean] and it trickles down. That's kind of what everybody expects every time we get together and we do things. I think our guys know that they want to be great, and in order to do that, we have to continue to push and keep getting better and better," said IU Assistant Coach Tim Buckley who took Crean's place in the post-game press conference Sunday night.
Swinging for the fences instead of playing for singles: Ok, that is clearly a baseball analogy, but it is exactly what Ball State's Jauwan Scaife thought contributed to the Cardinals margin of defeat. "I think we lost our game-plan for a couple minutes there. Once we got behind, guys started to panic a little bit and probably tried to do some stuff that we maybe shouldn't have done, probably trying to make the home run play in certain ways."
Scaife is one of the few experienced Cardinals and was quick to take responsibility for the mind-set Ball State appeared to play with once the Hoosiers started to get hot. He referenced that the team should have come together and kept their composure. While it is hard to say anything good comes from a 48-point loss, having gone through this experience against the nation's #1 team could help signal a quicker alarm to Scaife in the future. Ball State won't play against a better team in a more intimidating environment the rest of this season.
Qdoba!: One of the more entertaining storylines from IU's victory over Sam Houston State last week dealt with a promotion offered to fans this season. If the Hoosiers score 100 points, the first 100 fans with a ticket stub at the Bloomington Qdoba will get a free meal that night. The Hoosiers came two points short against Sam Houston State and sophomore Austin Etherington took some of the heat by missing the front-end of a one-on-one on the Hoosiers final possession.
Etherington was in position to once again rewards the fans with a burrito Sunday, and this time he didn't disappoint. With under a minute to play, the sophomore from Hamilton Heights took the ball the length of the court and converted a layup while being fouled to move the scoreboard to 100. Etherington added the free throw as well to complete the scoring and send fans scurrying to Qdoba. "His eyes lit up when he saw it was 98, he wanted to get that burrito. He (Etherington) is probably at Qdoba right now," said Sheehey after the game creating laughter in the media room. Sheehey added in a bit of a sarcastic tone, "It's redemption for him, I'm sure he is ecstatic."
Clearly the Qdoba storyline is one for November and not something that should be talked about every game. However, in a game that was pretty much over by halftime, it was something to keep the fans (and media members) interested during the second half and perhaps it was fitting that Etherington was featured on the cover of the Hoosiers Gameday program Sunday night.
Bring on UNC: While North Carolina's loss to Butler in the Maui Classic has tarnished the Tar Heels resume just a bit, North Carolina is still a talented team and one that should present some challenges for undefeated Indiana. "They're a very good basketball team. They are coming off a loss, that always gets you a little more re-focused. They're really good on the backboards, we've got to do a good job of rebounding the ball. You might want to bring a neck brace. I think that ball is going to be up and down the floor all night. It's going to be a very fast type of environment out on the floor, but we can't play to fast," said Buckley when asked about the Tar Heels.
There is only one day between the Ball State game and the Big Ten/ACC Challenge match-up against North Carolina. While the experience of playing two games in three days should help the Hoosiers down the road, they're focus right now is only on the squad from Chapel Hill, North Carolina that is on its way to Bloomington. "They're a talented team and we expect their best shot and we should give ours," added Buckley.