Did we mention Bob Knight and Tom Crean shook hands?
Sorry. Who can focus on another double-digit Hoosier victory when you have the sort of return of the General into the Cream 'n Crimson world.
So let's get that out of the way first. Knight was an ESPN analyst for Monday night's game between IU and Georgia in the Legends Classic at Brooklyn's Barclays Center. It was Knight's first appearance at a Hoosier event since he was fired in 2000.
Knight handled his TV responsibilities fine. After the Hoosiers wore down Georgia 66-53, Crean hustled over (the guy never strolls) to shake hands with Knight and fellow ESPN broadcaster Dan Shulman. It was Crean's way of showing respect, and if Knight looked as enthusiastic about it as if he was offered a shot glass of Castor oil, well, it was a start.
OK, back to the Hoosiers.
They finally got a test after three straight Assembly Hall blowouts. Georgia pushed them hard, in part because their first half shooting was atrocious (they missed 11 of its first 12 three-point attempts), in part because their No. 1 ranking means they'll get everybody's best shot.
If nothing else, the big, strong, aggressive Bulldogs (1-3) went after IU hard.
But then Oladipo caught fire (is there a better dunker in the Big Ten?), Hulls showed why he's probably America's best player under 6-foot (Crean told ESPN Hulls is a “NBA guard”), the offense kicked in gear and the defense dominated (Georgia shot 34 percent for the game).
IU shot 58.3 percent in the second half. It helped that Oladipo was dunking every time he touched the ball, when Hulls wasn't burying three-pointers and tossing in running floaters.
Oladipo led with 15 points and eight rebounds. Hulls had 14 points, 11 in the second half, along with five assists and four rebounds. Christian Watford had 14 points.
The Bulldogs looked nothing like the bumbling group that had lost to Youngstown State and Southern Mississippi last week. They played hard and shot poorly, but they did hold national player of the year contender Cody Zeller to just four shots and six points in 27 minutes. To be fair, foul trouble also limited Zeller as did the fact he's still getting over an illness.
Crean shortened his rotation, only using nine players. Two guys who weren't available because of a suspension for improper benefits, freshmen forwards Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin, were on hand after the NCAA initially said they couldn't make the trip. IU has appealed their nine-game suspensions and ESPN reported there was hope they might be eligible in time for tonight's Legends Classic title game.
The Hoosiers figured to play No. 11 UCLA tonight, but Georgetown (3-0) took care of that with its 78-70 victory. Otto Porter had 18 points and 11 rebounds.
IU will struggle with big, physical teams until Perea and Jurkin come off suspension, and forward Derek Elston recovers from knee surgery (he's projected back before Big Ten play begins in late December).
In the meantime, the Hoosiers will attack with speed and pace, looking to wear down bigger teams to the point of exhaustion.
Will it work?
It should against Georgetown, which is not projected as a Big East contender. After that, there's only one non-conference team that can rival IU's blend of talent and depth, and that's No. 9 North Carolina, which comes to Assembly Hall next Tuesday.
But that's a topic for another day.
Up nextTipoff: Indiana vs. Georgetown, 10 p.m. tonight
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