BLOOMINGTON — No. 1 Indiana took a night off from its regular season for a dunking practice on Saturday night.
Central Connecticut, which had no player in its starting lineup over 6-foot-6, just happened to be on the court at the time.
One thing was certain during the Hoosiers’ 100-69 victory at Assembly Hall: Victor Oladipo remains King of the Dunks among his teammates.
Indiana’s Cody Zeller, who had 19 points and 19 rebounds, had his usual assortment of simple but effective jams against the over-matched and undersized Blue Devils (4-4). Forward Will Sheehey showed off his usual emphatic throw-down form as well. It should be noted that Sheehey would have lost style points by missing a one-handed slam attempt late in the game. He did, however, get the offensive rebound and put-back.
Oladipo, who won the dunk contest at the preseason Hoosier Hysteria event, takes his dunking seriously as an art form.
And while his 180-degree spin and back-over-his-head slam in the second half might have been a favorite of the fans, Oladipo’s stuff on top of Blue Devils forward Terrell Allen in the first half would have graded out with 10s across the board. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds.
Oladipo first said he enjoyed the dunk back over his head the best because he was all alone and able to plan his attack. Then he reconsidered.
“The one where I dunked on the dude was cool,” he said with a laugh.
Crean said the effect of Oladipo’s dunking was obvious. “This is a close knit group,” Crean said. “They all have different things that trigger their energy. The crowd feels that and enjoys it. Victor’s ability at the rim is a big part of what he brings.”
The entire game was one, big dunk on Central Connecticut’s collective head. Even though Indiana had played just once (an 87-51 win over Coppin State) since the huge win over North Carolina on Nov. 27, the Hoosiers didn’t look rusty.
Zeller said all the time off has the Hoosiers feeling rested.
“We came out with a lot of energy,” he said.
Crean was energized by Zeller’s 19-19 game. “That’s a big-time night,” Crean said. “He was very, very aggressive.”
The Blue Devils stayed close for the first few minutes at 15-14, then Indiana (9-0) went on a 10-0 run that included 3-balls from Jordan Hulls (10 points, five rebounds, four assists) and Maurice Creek, and it was off to the races.
Christian Watford led Indiana with 21 points. Freshman point guard Kevin “Yogi” Farrell had eight points and six assists.
Indiana won the rebounding battle 53-31.
“I think we are playing well,” Oladipo said. “But I believe we haven’t even scratched the surface.”
The one sad note on the evening was an injury to Indiana reserve Austin Etherington, a 6-6 forward who appeared to injure his left knee and was taken off the court on a stretcher in the first half. “It’s definitely a significant injury,” said Crean, who added that it was too early to determine the exact nature and severity of the injury.
Indiana now gets back front-court players and freshmen Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin, who finished serving their nine-game suspension by the NCAA for illegal benefits.