Indiana Overcomes Slow 1st Half, Notches Record Start in Tom Crean Era

Eric SmithCorrespondent IIIDecember 4, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 19:  Tom Crean the Head Coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Savannah State Tigers at Assembly Hall on November 19, 2011 in Bloomington, Indiana.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

At halftime on Sunday, Indiana found itself leading Stetson by just a 33-29 score. This pesky Hatters team wouldn't go away like it was supposed to.

Indiana (8-0) rode a 32-5 run in the first 12 minutes of the second half to pull ahead of Stetson (4-4) 65-34, then never looked back in the 84-50 blowout win.

Indiana scored 51 points in the second half to Stetson's 21.

Freshman Cody Zeller led the Hoosiers with 16 points and seven rebounds on 7-of-11 shooting from the field. He was one of four Hoosiers to reach double figures.

Sophomore Victor Oladipo scored 13 points while junior Jordan Hulls notched 12 and senior Verdell Jones III added 11.

Christian Watford was the only Hoosier starter not to reach double figures, with nine points, while junior forward Derek Elston led the Hoosiers off the bench with seven points.

Stetson was led by sophomore guard Chris Perez's 13 points. He was the only Hatter in double figures.

Indiana's defense was the key to this game, holding Stetson to only 32 percent shooting and forcing 22 Hatter turnovers. The Hoosiers led Stetson in blocks 7-1, and they only committed 10 total fouls in this game.

The Hoosiers offense, on the other hand, shot 51 percent from the field, including 38 percent from behind the arc and 78 percent from the line. Indiana also only committed nine turnovers.

The eight-game win streak is the longest in the four-year Tom Crean era, and it's also the best start in the era as well.

Indiana has also won all eight matchups this season by double digits, including six of the eight by 20-plus points.

With all of that, Indiana looks to be ranked in next week's AP Top 25 Poll for the first time since the 2006-07 season. The team will almost surely be ranked on the heels of an undefeated start and a huge road win over NC State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Wednesday.

The Hoosiers will only have one game next week, and that's the mammoth matchup with the top-ranked Kentucky Wildcats.

This game is already a heated rivalry, but mix that with the No. 1 team in the nation coming to Assembly Hall for the first time since the UConn Huskies came in ranked No. 1 in the 2005-06 season, and you have a raucous atmosphere.

Kentucky also has freshman starting point guard Marquis Teague, who graduated from Indianapolis' Pike High School last year to throw more fuel on this fire. Teague turned down Indiana for Kentucky, which is a huge slap in the face to Hoosier fans.

He decided to not only go out of state but to what Indiana fans consider the evil blue empire of the state directly to the south.

There will be huge talk and hype surrounding this game, and I can't wait for next Saturday's 5:15 p.m. tipoff.