Tribune Star Correspondent
Coppin State was supposed to be the cold-shooting team coming into Saturday night’s game against No. 1 Indiana.
Only four teams in Division I basketball were shooting poorer from the field than the Eagles. But it was the Hoosiers who couldn’t make a shot early on against the Eagles.
So Christian Watford, in a slump of his own entering the game, powered IU to its eighth straight victory.
Watford, who scored just two points Tuesday night against No. 14 North Carolina, had the Hoosiers’ first field goal and later gave IU its first lead of the night in an 87-51 win over Coppin State (1-6).
“Tonight was fun for a lot of reasons,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “They played extremely hard even at the beginning when shots weren’t falling.
“These guys, they were ready to go. And if they’re not ready to go, it shows up in the effort … we didn’t have any of that.”
“I think we did a great job moving the ball,” Remy Abell said. “We missed some shots, (but) they were open.”
While Watford got the Hoosiers going with his shots, it was Victor Oladipo who sparked the Hoosiers as they pulled away in the second half.
He opened the second half with a steal and dunk and scored eight of his 14 points after halftime.
“He started the second half off with a dunk,” Abell said. “That got us going.”
Oladipo and Crean credit the team’s defense for the Hoosiers’ ability to rally.
“We score in transition and we score in multiple ways, but we score on our defense,” Oladipo said.
The Hoosiers (8-0) scored 21 points off 17 Coppin State turnovers. And Oladipo had a career-high 20 “deflections,” an unofficial stat that the Hoosiers track which includes steals, defensive stops and a variety of other plays.
Crean said the 20 deflections were the most by any Indiana player since he’s been in Bloomington. He said Dwyane Wade had 23 for his Marquette team in a game against Tulane.
But he also said the win was a team effort.
Will Sheehey also scored 14 points for the Hoosiers, while Watford and Abell each scored 10.
Coppin State’s zone kept Cody Zeller from double figures in points or rebounds; he finished with nine and seven, respectively.
“We will see more zone,” Oladipo said. “But at the end of the day, we can still get the ball to Cody.”
Coppin State, which was shooting 34.8 percent from the field coming into the game, hit just 33.9 percent against the Hoosiers. Taariq Cephas was the only Eagle in double figures; he scored 13.
Michael Murray had a game-high 12 rebounds for Coppin State, which fell to 1-48 all-time against ranked teams and 0-25 against teams from the Big Ten. This was the first time Coppin State had ever played the No. 1 team in the country.