Hoosiers muzzle Jaguars

Here’s Chris’ story from today’s H-T. You might also want to watch for his feature tomorrow on Indiana recruit Bud Mackey. We visited Mackey, who lives in Georgetown, Ky., when we were in Lexington for the Indiana-Kentucky game. Bud seems like he’ll be quite a college player and he’s one of the nicest high school kids you’d ever meet.

Efficient offense, defense key Indiana’s 86-57 rout of IUPUI

By Chris Korman
331-4353 | ckorman@heraldt.com
December 23, 2006

How far away those early-morning fall workouts must be now for the Indiana men’s basketball team.

Three days before Christmas, the festive feel in the air portending not only holiday cheer but the coming of the Big Ten season, the Hoosiers had little trouble dispatching cousin IUPUI, 86-57, at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

With the score all but settled late in the game, Indiana’s players sat on the bench joking with each other, chatting — maybe not even about basketball — in-between glances toward the surface.

When Adam Ahlfeld, the enthusiastic reserve guard from Indianapolis, finally got into the game with 1:03 minutes left all eyes returned to the court. Good thing, too, because Ahlfeld went diving after a loose ball and crashed into the Indiana bench. His teammates had moved by then and he smacked against the vacant chairs, drawing a roar from the crowd.

ooAhlfeld’s play was the most compelling moment of the night. After the Hoosiers raced to a 15-2 lead to open the game nothing was left but the mouse chasing the cat. Not great theater.

Three Indiana players scored more than 20 points — Earl Calloway and Lance Stemler had 21 each and Armon Bassett had 20.

Calloway stoked the early blitz, constantly going to the lane.

“They extend out so much that you could penetrate the interior,” said Calloway, who hit 5-of-5 from the field and scored 17 points in the first half.

He played just nine minutes in the second half and came a point shy of tying his career high. This is the second game in a row he’s scored at least 20 points.

Stemler came into the game on an 0-for-10 streak from 3-point range. When he finally got a 3-pointer to fall with 3:12 left in the first half, relief filled the entire arena.

“Coach just told me to lose myself in other parts of the game,” said Stemler, who pumped his fist and celebrated the shot. He also grabbed a career-high nine rebounds. Indiana, which was outrebounded for the first time by Western Michigan, pulled down 43 boards compared to IUPUI’s 23.

Bassett, the true freshman point guard from Terre Haute, scored in double figures for the third straight game. Besides scoring a career high he once again gave the crowd a play worthy of fast-forwarding to on the DVR. This time he got the lane and finished with an underhand feed to wide open Lance Stemler under the basket.

Indiana did almost everything well and that can partly be attributed to playing a small mid-major that didn’t play its best player. George Hill has been out since Nov. 14 with a broken foot but could have played Friday night. IUPUI coach Ron Hunter kept the senior guard — who averaged 19 points last season — on the bench because he was not “mentally ready.”

You can’t pin Indiana’s improvement at the line to the quality of the opponent, though. The Hoosiers hit 18-of-22 for 81.8 percent. That’s its best effort this year.

And D.J. White had five assists, a career high. Every team this year has collapsed on the junior forward but he’s struggled finding the open guard for a shot. Not tonight. It clicked for him.

Sampson waffled on what to do with is team after its laborious win against Western Michigan Wednesday. He thought they might need a rest in the midst of playing three games in six days following finals week.

Instead, he worked them hard.

“We just went at it,” Sampson said. “Just to emphasize who we are. We’re a team that has to play to our identity.”

The Hoosiers played so well to that identity that Hunter called them the best defensive team in the country.

“They just take you out of absolutely everything,” he said.