Maurice Creek took the floor to a standing ovation and answered it, scoring 12 points in his first game of any kind since his second knee injury on Jan. 15, 2011.
The junior guard hit four of six field goals and two of his four 3-pointers to lead the No. 1 Hoosiers to a 86-57 win over Indiana Wesleyan in an exhibition game in front of 17,186 at Assembly Hall.
Creek checked in with 10:57 to go in the first half to a standing ovation.
“It was a great, great, great reaction,” Creek said after the No. 1 Hoosiers predictably handled NAIA power Indiana Wesleyan 86-57. “Standing ovation, that’s big-time. That’s love. I can’t do nothing but thank them. Thank everybody and appreciate everybody that stood up for me.”
Creek’s teammates and coaches were just as thrilled to see him not only on the court but playing well on both ends.
“I was really excited for Maurice,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “It was emotional watching the crowd react to him. It’s not surprising because it’s Indiana, but nonetheless, you never take it for granted. I don’t think any of us take for granted that have lived with him the fact how special it is that he’s back out there. I’m telling ya. It’s been a long road. He’s done it, and he’s earned it.”
Creek recorded a rebound and a block along with his points, and also showed that he can score in other ways beyond his jump shot. A baseline drive that turned into a floater was a particularly encouraging play for Crean.
“Mo just made a hard drive to the lane, shot the little running floater pull-up,” Crean said. “That was a big-time play. That was a big-time play. Those are the kinds of things that we’ve gotta get from him. When he shows that burst, that shows that the legs are getting a little stronger. He’s still aways away in that sense and it’s still hard for him to put day after day after day together. … But I would say that right there, and he was very active defensively.”
Senior forward Christian Watford, junior swingman Will Sheehey and sophomore center Cody Zeller had 11 points each with Zeller making all four of his field goals. Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell started the game along with Watford, Sheehey, junior Victor Olaidpo and senior Jordan Hulls. Ferrell had eight points and four assists.
Crean was less than thrilled with the defense early as Indiana Wesleyan opened up a 13-4 lead and knocked down five 3-pointers in the first half. However, the Hoosiers turned it around form that point on and Wesleyan shot just 8-for-25 (32.0 percent) in the second half, making just one of six 3-pointers and turning the ball over 10 times.
“We got down,” Crean said. ‘They made some shots. At the same time, we were a little off. We really didn’t start figuring out until the second half that we really needed to get into them. Not in a fouling way, but we were bringing fatigue to the game and we really needed to bring pressure.”
NOTE: Crean said that freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin have not yet been formally cleared to play by the NCAA.
“There’s situations that are always going to arise and every one of them has got a process to it,” Crean said. “We’re in the middle of that process. We just are. That’s the extent of it. They’re two great kids that are trying to get better every day. It’s not like it’s anything that we’re dealing with that just came up. It’s been a process for some time. That’s really where we’re at with it.”
Crean was asked if he knows when he should expect a resolution.
“No,” Crean said. “I wish I could answer that. I wish I could. I just don’t. We’re in the midst of it. It’s like anything else. It’s daily.”
Crean did not specify for what reason the NCAA Eligibility Center has not yet cleared Jurkin or Mosquera-Perea. The center often takes longer to process the cases of players from foreign countries. Jurkin is from South Sudan and Mosquera-Perea is from Colombia. Both came to the U.S. through the Bloomington-based A-HOPE program, and questions were raised in May of 2011 in an ESPN investigative story about whether benefits the two received through that program could affect their eligibility.