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Sunday’s basketball: Indiana pulls away to win

Associated Press

Bloomington, Ind. — Tom Crean knew there was one thing No. 13 Indiana couldn’t have Sunday — a letdown.

So with the fourth game of the week looming, the Hoosiers coach made some changes. He installed some new plays, urged players to fight through the fatigue.

Winning made it even better. Robert Johnson had 17 points and seven rebounds and De’Ron Davis scored 14 points to lead the Hoosiers past Southeast Missouri State for an 83-55 victory.

“In a week like this where you have these numerous games, it’s real easy to go vanilla with the game plan,” Crean said. “I don’t believe in that. So we put a couple of things in yesterday and this morning that were a little different. It makes them be a little more aware and alert.”

Eventually, Crean’s strategy worked well enough to produce the Hoosiers’ fourth straight win, all this week.

But whether it was the rugged stretch, the lack of a big-time opponent, the absence of high-energy forward OG Anunoby (ankle) or something else, Indiana (7-1) wasn’t itself. Instead of pushing the tempo with quick passes early, the offense bogged down and repeatedly went deep into the shot clock. The result: 18 turnovers and 7 of 20 on 3-pointers.

“I think it was pretty tough, four games in eight days or whatever it was,” Johnson said. “I think it was a really big jump for our young guys, and I thought it was a good week for us.”

Denzel Mahoney led Southeast Missouri State (4-4) with 16 points, and Antonius Cleveland had 13.

Indiana took advantage of Southeast Missouri State’s early shooting struggles to jump to a 17-2 lead. After the Redhawks closed to 26-21 late in the half, Indiana closed it on a 13-5 run, then opened the second half on an 11-4 spurt to make it 50-30 with 15:51 to play.

The Redhawks never seriously challenged again.

Southeast Missouri State shot a season-low 31.3 percent from the field, went more than 8 minutes in the second half without a basket and finished with its lowest point total this season.

“I think what happens when a team like Southeast Missouri State plays a ranked team that’s really good, like Indiana, is that guys think they have to come in and make extraordinary plays and really what you need to do is just make simple plays,” Redhawks coach Rick Ray said. “Where you need to be extraordinary is on the defensive end.”

(At) No. 3 North Carolina 95, Radford 50: Kenny Williams III had 14 of his career-high 19 points in the opening 5 minutes. The Tar Heels (8-1) were coming off a loss at No. 13 Indiana in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. They had no trouble in this one, though they lost guard Joel Berry II to a sprained left ankle in the second half. Justin Cousin scored 14 points for the Highlanders (3-5).

(At) No. 20 South Carolina 70, FIU 54: Duane Notice scored 27 points and P.J. Dozier had 20 for South Carolina. The Gamecocks (8-0) were without leading scorer Sindarius Thornwell. He was suspended indefinitely before the game for violating an athletic department policy.