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Zeller paces IU win over Northwestern

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For more on college basketball, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Hoosiers inch way back into Big Ten race

Sunday, January 20, 2013 - 10:48 pm

EVANSTON, Ill. – Indiana is back near the top of the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers' 67-59 victory at Northwestern Sunday gave them a 4-1 conference record, which ties them with Michigan and Wisconsin for second, a half-game behind 5-1 Michigan State.

Second-ranked Indiana (16-2) needed a bounce-back performance after losing to Wisconsin last Tuesday. It faced a Northwestern team that had lost its last two home games, and four of its last six at Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Reggie Hearn, a former Snider standout, led the Wildcats (11-8, 2-4) with 22 points, one off his career high. He has 42 points in his last two games.

Hearn played all 40 minutes. He was 7-for-12 from the field and 8-for-9 from the line. He added three rebounds, one assist and one block.

Hoosier forward Cody Zeller led IU with 21 points and 13 rebounds. Christian Watford added 14 points and six rebounds. Jordan Hulls had 15.

Indiana guard Victor Oladipo left the game briefly in the second half with a head/eye injury, but soon returned.

The Hoosiers needed him. He finished with seven points, six rebounds and five assists.

Indiana took charge early behind Watford, who once again got off to a strong start. The Hoosiers used a 9-0 run to build a 12-4 lead. They pushed ahead by as many as 15 points before settling for a 31-17 halftime lead.

IU shot 44.4 percent in the first half. Cody Zeller had seven points and eight rebounds.

The Hoosiers' recent second-half struggles resurfaced. They fouled early and often. Their lead was cut to six. But a big three-pointer from Oladipo and a mid-range jumper from Will Sheehey (who broke a two-game scoreless streak) helped IU hold on for the victory.

Its next game is Wednesday against Penn State.