EVAnSTON, Ill, — Cody Zeller scored 21 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and No. 2 Indiana beat Northwestern 67-59 on Sunday.
Jordan Hulls added 15 points. Christian Watford scored 14, and the Hoosiers (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten) hung on after things got tense down the stretch.
They led by as much as 17 in the first half and were up 31-17 at intermission, but Northwestern (11-8, 2-4) rattled them with its trap in the second. The Wildcats pulled within five three times, but the Hoosiers prevailed after seeing a six-game win streak end with a loss to Wisconsin last week.
Zeller, the Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, hit 9 of 10 free throws and dominated inside as Indiana pounded the Wildcats 36-24 on the glass.
Reggie Hearn scored 22 for Northwestern, which refused to go away quietly in this one after beating No. 23 Illinois on Thursday.
Overmatched in the early going, the Wildcats scored eight straight to pull within 47-42, a free throw by Hearn with 6:34 left in the game capping that run.
Indiana got the lead back up to double digits on a tip-in by Zeller and long 3 by Victor Oladipo to make it 54-43 with 4:52 left, but Northwestern wasn't finished.
Three free throws by Hearn and a 3-pointer from the corner by Jared Swopshire (13 points) cut it to 56-51. Swopshire's layup made it 58-53 with just over two minutes left, but the Hoosiers hung on from there.
With most of the crowd decked out in cream and crimson, the Hoosiers wasted no time taking control.
Watford scored 11 in the first half and had eight as Indiana grabbed a 13-4 lead, and when it looked as if Northwestern might claw its way back into this one, Indiana answered with nine straight.
They got two tip-ins from Zeller and a 3 from Watford in transition before Hulls drove for a layup that made it 26-9 with 4:33 left, crashing to the court as the ball fell through the net.