Indiana 88, Florida Atlantic 52

ETA link to my Post-Tribune story; Tribune-Star story after the jump …

Another easy victory for the Hoosiers, who let the Owls hang around for a few minutes before putting the game away with a 20-2 run. There’s been a lot of chatter about IU’s cupcake nonconference schedule and how it won’t get the Hoosiers ready for the Big Ten season, and it’s probably justified. Comparing the Hoosiers’ performance against Butler to their performance against these other teams, it’s like night and day.

But Cody Zeller was definitely more aggressive tonight than he’s seemed in recent games, and adding Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin to the rotation should help Zeller on defense. Case in point: there were some stretches in the first half when Hanner and Cody were on the court together, allowing Cody to play perimeter defense while Hanner manned the post. Zeller forced at least one turnover by playing out on the perimeter; that could pick up going forward if Hanner and Peter can keep improving.

There’s one more nonconference game to go for the Hoosiers, next Friday against Jacksonville, and then the Big Ten season begins. That’s one more game for Tom Crean to get Hanner and Peter and Derek Elston worked into the rotation.

Some quick post-game quotes, notes, etc.:

The Hoosiers held FAU to 19-of-56 shooting, 33.9 percent. That’s the ninth time in 12 games this season in which IU’s opponent has shot less than 40 percent.

Cody Zeller’s 24 points were a season-high, two shy of his career best, and was his third 20-point game this season. He had seven last year.

Christian Watford had 17 points, but no rebounds. That’s the first game in his career in which he hasn’t had a rebound.

Some interesting quotes:

“This place is electric. I love North Carolina fans, but these people are it. … Anybody who hasn’t seen ‘Hoosiers’ should probably go home and watch it. I may go home and watch it myself. It’s just a great basketball feel and vibe.” — FAU coach Mike Jarvis, when asked to compare the atmosphere at IU to the atmosphere at North Carolina, where the Owls lost in their season-opener on Nov. 11

“I was thinking about the dunk.” — an honest Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who fumbled the ball when he was wide-open under the basket at one point.

By Andy Proffet

Tribune-Star correspondent

BLOOMINGTON — The formula for Indiana’s nonconference success could almost be a patented blueprint at this point.

Give the other team a few minutes at the start of the game to hang with the Hoosiers, then pull away with a dominating run to effectively seal the victory before halftime.

No. 6 Indiana did it again Friday night, cruising to an 88-52win over Florida Atlantic.

The Owls (5-7) led three times in the first three minutes, the last time on a Jordan McCoy layup to put FAU ahead 6-4.

But Cody Zeller answered with a layup, then stole a pass from Greg Gantt and drove the length of the floor for a layup and foul for a 9-6 lead.

From there, the rout was on, with the Hoosiers (11-1) outscoring the Owls 20-2 over a near seven-minute stretch, with FAU’s only points in that time coming on two Gantt free throws.

Gantt snapped the Owls’ scoreless streak from the field with a 3-pointer to cut IU’s lead to 24-11 at the 10:07 mark, but it was too little, too late. The Hoosiers hit 10 of their next 15 shots to build a 30-point lead.

The Owls wouldn’t get closer than 28 points the rest of the way.

“We can’t have any letups no matter what the score is,” Victor Oladipo said. “You can’t play the score.”

Zeller finished with 24 points, two away from tying his career high, and had IU’s only miss from the free-throw line. He was 12-of-13 on free throws as the Hoosiers were 26-of-27 from the line.

Kidded about the miss on the first question from reporters, Zeller got some reassurance from Oladipo.

“You’re cool,” Oladipo said.

Zeller said the secret to his free-throw success was simple: “Shooting it higher, like I told you at Butler,” he said.

Indiana coach Tom Crean acknowledged that Zeller took some ribbing for the miss.

But, “Cody’s a very hungry player,” Crean said.

“I was asked if he’s meeting my expectations, and I don’t think of it that way,” Crean said. “Is he developing? Is he getting better? There’s a place you think they can get to eventually … (Cody’s getting there).”

Christian Watford added 17 points, Oladipo scored 16, Jordan Hulls had 10 points and Hanner Mosquera-Perea had 10 rebounds and four points in his first extended action this season.

“He went out there and played defense, rebounded at a high level,” Oladipo said of Mosquera-Perea. “He just has to continue to be consistent.

“We have confidence in him. When he catches the ball, we expect a highlight dunk.”

Mosquera-Perea admitted he got ahead of himself on one dunk opportunity, when he was left alone under the basket but fumbled the ball away.

“I was already thinking about the dunk,” he said.

Mosquera-Perea’s classmate, Peter Jurkin, made his season debut as well, but wasn’t as much of a factor, playing just four minutes. And Jeremy Hollowell, who played in each of Indiana’s first 10 games, sat out his second straight because of “a personal, private matter not related to academic issues,” Crean said.

There had been speculation about Hollowell’s absence because of grades, but Crean said the team GPA for the fall semester was 3.08 and the four freshmen players “had excellent summers and excellent falls.”

Gantt fell four points shy of becoming FAU’s career leading scorer; he had 25 points. No one else scored more than eight points for the Owls.

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