|San Francisco 49ers NFL football head coach Jim Harbaugh carries off chairs for the Indiana players following a timeout in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against North Carolina Central in Bloomington, Ind., Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012. Harbaugh is the brother-in-law of Indiana head coach Tom Crean. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)|
No. 23 Hoosiers rout N. Carolina Central 75-56
BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Instead of taking a bye, the Indiana Hoosiers opted to play a non-conference game Wednesday night.
It was almost as easy as taking the day off.
Cody Zeller had 17 points and seven rebounds and Victor Oladipo scored 16 points, leading No. 23 Indiana to a 75-56 rout over North Carolina Central.
The game was originally scheduled for Dec. 7, but when the conference schedule-makers dealt Indiana two byes in less than two weeks during league play, the Hoosiers asked North Carolina Central to move the game to late February.
The Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference school agreed, but it only prolonged the inevitable. Indiana (21-7) was too big, too strong, too deep and too athletic for a foe in its first season as a full-fledged Division I member.
North Carolina Central (14-13) went more than 9 minutes in the first half without grabbing a rebound and had only four during the final 15:09 of the first half.
Dominique Sutton scored 21 points to lead the Eagles and Emanuel Chapman and Jeremy Ingram each had 10 points, not nearly enough to prevent North Carolina Central from losing its third straight in the series or dropping to 0-7 against Big Ten schools since moving to Division I.
The Eagles came into Wednesday with five wins in their previous six games.
Indiana coach Tom Crean wanted the new date to prevent his team from getting stale with so much time off.
Despite the lack of energy inside Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers still looked sharp. They shot 51 percent from the field, outrebounded the Eagles 35-16 and never let North Carolina Central get close after extending the lead to double digits in the first half.
It didn't take long for the Hoosiers to assert themselves, either.
After Indiana opened the game on a 6-0 run, North Carolina Central coach LeVelle Moton quickly called time out. The Hoosiers followed with a 13-3 run to make it 21-7 midway through the first half, then extended the margin to as much as 24-9.
The Eagles finally rallied, closing to 28-18, but Indiana rebuilt a 39-26 halftime lead and never let up.
Chapman's 3-pointer got the Eagles within 39-29, but the Hoosiers answered with a 10-2 run and extended the lead to 24 points with 8:45 to play.
North Carolina Central got as close as 17 the rest of the way.