Men’s basketball: Hoosiers use second half run to down Bulldogs

FROM BLOOMINGTON–

Butler men’s basketball coach Brad Stevens’ jacket was gone midway through the second half of yesterday’s game against Indiana.

With it went Butler’s chances to win in Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers (6-0) defeated the Bulldogs (3-3) 75-59 Sunday night in the finale of the Hoosier Invitational.  It was the first matchup between the schools since Nov. 14, 2006.

The final score did not reflect a game that was close throughout.

Sophomore guard Chrishawn Hopkins led the Bulldogs with 19 points and sophomore forward Khyle Marshall scored 16.

No other Butler player had more than six as the team shot just 38.2 percent.

“I’m not big on losing,” Stevens said. “I know what type of team we have. We’ve got to do a better job.”

Indiana remained undefeated and has won each of its games by at least 16 points. Butler fell to .500 and trailed at halftime for the fourth consecutive contest.

Stevens said the raucous atmosphere in Bloomington was tough on the Bulldogs, and it showed in the statistics.

Butler turned the ball over 19 times, many on errant passes. Hopkins had a team-high seven turnovers and no assists.

“I needed to be tougher with the ball,” Hopkins said. “I didn’t do that.”

Sophomore forward Will Sheehey led the Hoosiers with a career-high 21 points. Freshman center Cody Zeller finished with 16, junior guard Jordan Hulls added 14 and sophomore guard Victor Oladipo had 10 for Indiana.

Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said it meant a lot to beat the Bulldogs.

“There’s no question why they win,” he said. “They’re well-coached, and they’re battlers.”

The Hoosiers scored the game’s first six points but neither team led by more than six until Indiana went ahead 44-37 with 11:10 to play.

At that point Crean used a big lineup to try to stay in front. He inserted Zeller, a center, as well as senior Tom Pritchard and junior Christian Watford, two power forwards.

Stevens countered with Marshall and junior center Andrew Smith.  This left the 6-foot-3 Chase Stigall on the 6-9 Watford, creating a mismatch that would result in points for the Hoosiers.

With 9:27 to go, Stevens summoned his team to the bench for the second time in less than a minute.

“We did not sustain,” Stevens said. “Does that mean we would have won? No, but you’ve got to sustain discipline.”

The anticipated duel of Smith and Zeller, a matchup of 6-11 centers, did not materialize.

Smith entered the game leading Butler in scoring with a 12.6 average. He finished with three points on 1-of-7 shooting.

Crean said Zeller did “an excellent job” guarding Smith.

Despite corralling eight offensive boards and holding the Hoosiers to 32 percent shooting in the opening half, Butler was behind 31-28 at intermission.

During the first half, Hopkins scored 11 of Butler’s 13 points in a five-minute stretch.  The last of those came on a crossover on the right wing. The crowd groaned as Hopkins sunk a long jumper.

Butler suffered when Hopkins cooled off in the second half.

“We did a better job staying with him,” Crean said. “They do a great job sending him off screens, and awareness was a key.”

Oladipo guarded Hopkins in the first half.  After the break, Butler’s emerging guard was checked by Sheehey, who made an adjustment.

“We were giving him too much room,” Sheehey said. “He could take a dribble or give a jab step. We played tighter.”

Marshall was also strong in the first half, recording a pair of dunks. One was a two-hand jam on a fastbreak, while the second was set up by a pass from freshman guard Jackson Aldridge.

Marshall did not start, however, as Stevens opted for seldom-used senior forward Garrett Butcher, a native of nearby Ellettsville.

Butcher did not score but responded with plenty of hustle, recording five offensive rebounds.

There were four ties and eight lead changes in a first half dominated by defense.

The game’s turning point came after Marshall slipped to the basket, hit a floater in the lane and was fouled seven minutes into the second half. He completed the three-point play to draw the Bulldogs within 38-35.

That’s when the Hoosiers broke loose.

Sheehey had six points and a steal in Indiana’s ensuing 13-4 run that caused Stevens to toss aside some clothing.

“We need to play 40-minute games,” Hopkins said, “not three-quarters of a game.”

Senior guard Verdell Jones made two free throws with 4:20 left for his only points. Still, the points triggered an 8-0 run by Indiana to put the game out of reach.

The victory over Butler was important to the players in cream and crimson.

“They’re a great team,” Hulls said. “It’s an in-state rivalry game. That’s a big thing trying to claim the state.”

The young Bulldogs got the chance to play in an arena sporting five championship banners and Stevens got to face the team he rooted for growing up for the first time as a head coach.

“I hope they have a great year,” he said. “It doesn’t get any easier for us from here on out.”

Butler next plays at home Tuesday against Oakland City.

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