No. 16 Indiana cruises past Austin Peay, 97-62
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Robert Johnson started fast for No. 16 Indiana on Wednesday night.
His teammates took care of everything else.
James Blackmon Jr. scored 24 points, Johnson had 20 on a career-high six 3-pointers to help the Hoosiers blow out Austin Peay 97-62.
“I was just getting a lot of open shots. We were going inside and out and whenever we do that, those are 3s that we take,” Johnson said. “The way we move the ball it can be any guy any time so when you see the opening, you’ve just got to take it.”
He did and Indiana (10-2) extended its home winning streak to 26 games, the fifth-longest in school history. The last three victories have come by margins of 42, 47 and 35 – and it looked every bit that easy.
The Governors (4-9) started out in a zone against one of the nation’s best shooting teams, a big mistake that Johnson made them pay for right away.
He scored Indiana’s first nine points, all on 3s. Once Blackmon & Co. joined in, struggling Austin Peay never had a chance.
Johnson was 6 of 10 from beyond the arc before even attempting a 2-point shot. Blackmon made four 3s. Josh Newkirk finished with 11 points and a career-high 11 assists and the Hoosiers tied their season high with 15 3s on 28 attempts.
“I liked how the game was going early, but they got to the point where they were 10 of 17 from 3 so we had to get out of it (the zone),” Austin Peay coach Dave Loos said. “When we got out of it, we knew were going to have some issues because we definitely have some problems guarding and they kind of picked us apart after that.”
Josh Robinson had 21 points and John Murry added 18 to lead the Governors (4-9), who have lost seven straight.
The momentum shifted when 6-foot-10 center Thomas Bryant knocked down a 3 midway through the first half and Blackmon followed that with consecutive 3s to give the Hoosiers a 26-18 lead.
By halftime, Indiana was already 11 of 18 on 3s, including a buzzer-beating half-court bank shot from Devonte Green that made it 48-31. Austin Peay never got any closer.
“We shot the ball very well obviously,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “The way Rob shot it, the way James shot it, the way Josh moved it – when the ball is moving like that it’s good.”
Austin Peay: The recent struggles have been mostly a result of shoddy defense and against the Big Ten’s top scoring team, those flaws were glaring. The Governors have one more chance to find a solution before starting Ohio Valley Conference play.
Indiana: The soft part of the schedule is over and now the defending Big Ten champs’ margin for error shrinks. But in the process, they have put together a solid resume that includes two wins over opponents ranked No. 3 (Kansas and North Carolina), a loss to No. 18 Butler and the inexplicable overtime loss at Fort Wayne.
Hoosiers forward Juwan Morgan made his first three shots and finished with six points and two rebounds, but it turned into a rough night when he needed help to leave the court after hurting his right ankle. He did not return. After the game, Crean acknowledged it was not a precaution. “He definitely hurt his ankle tonight,” Crean said. “He wasn’t able to go back in. I’ll get an update later.”
Indiana started the night leading the Big Ten in scoring (88.1 points per game), field goal percentage (51.0) and scoring margin (plus-21.7). They padded those numbers against the Governors. The Hoosiers shot 62.5 percent from the field, marking the first time since December 1998 that Indiana has topped the 60 percent mark in consecutive games.
Austin Peay: Has its final non-conference tuneup Wednesday at Western Kentucky.
Indiana: Begins defense of its conference title Wednesday when Nebraska visits. The Cornhuskers are 1-5 all-time in Bloomington.