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Indiana's Hulls shoots down Jacksonville

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Tipoff: Indiana at Iowa, 4 p.m. Monday
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Online: For more on Indiana athletics, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at pdiprimio.

Senior guard paces Hoosiers' victory

Saturday, December 29, 2012 - 7:29 am

BLOOMINGTON -- So when did Indiana's Jordan Hulls realize he had returned to the can't-miss-shooting zone?

“When he woke up this morning,” teammate Victor Oladipo said with a smile.

Perhaps it was a little later, like when Hulls missed his first two three-point attempts against Jacksonville Friday night.

“What I liked was he was mature enough to say, 'I'm playing,'” coach Tom Crean said. “He had a great mindset.”

Hulls hit five straight three-pointers to end the first half, finished with six and totaled 20 points during the No. 5 Hoosiers' 93-59 victory. He banked in one three-pointer, swished another while fading away and to his right.

Oladipo has seen this before. He's practice with Hulls, shot with Hulls. He's even challenged him at times

“It doesn't surprise me," Oladipo said. "I've been in the gym with this guy since I got here. I've seen him hit 30 straight, 40 straight.

“We just need him to shoot the ball. Stop being so passive.”

There lies Hulls' Achilles heel. He's a shooter who doesn't shoot enough, an offensive threat too locked in to share-the-wealth mode.

“Like Vic was saying, I've been pretty passive,” Hulls said. “I've been working on being more aggressive. It's helped to have teammates have faith in me. Growing up I was always a pass-first guy.

“With all the hard work I've put in the gym, I felt good today and all this week.”

With Monday's Big Ten opener at Iowa looming, Oladipo said, this needs to be the norm and not the exception.

“When he makes shots like that it opens it up for everybody. We're going to need him to do that. He's a great person, a great leader, a great shooter. That's why I respect him as our leader.”

Hulls shoots 54.5 percent from three-point range, 56.3 percent overall, which is why Crean said Hulls' green shooting light never turns red.

“We don't want to hunt threes, but if Jordan wants to hunt threes, go ahead,” Crean said. “Offensively, go play. He doesn't make many bad decisions. If he does, we correct them -- hard -- and he doesn't make them again.

“He was very aggressive (Friday night) and we need him to do that. We need him to look for shots. The whole team is better when he's aggressive offensively on both ends of the court.

“He's capable of playing like this more often. The trick is to keep it up. We don't want errors of omission from him. If he makes a mistake, we want them of commission.”

Hulls' hot shooting was balanced by teammate Yogi Ferrell's hot passing. The freshman point guard had a career-high 10 assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes.

“To have 10 assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes against a team that pressed for almost 40 minutes, that's very strong,” Crean said. “His improvement is high because of his coach-ability and his learn-ability. It's all right there. It's only going to get better.”

The Hoosiers are 10-0 at Assembly Hall this season. Their closest home game was an 83-59 win over North Carolina in early December.

IU (121-1) got off to another slow start. Jacksonville (5-8) led 13-11 after seven minutes before the Hoosiers began to assert control.

Hulls was the catalyst. He hit two free throws before going on a three-point shooting onslaught that quickly gave the Hoosiers a double-digit lead they never lost.

“Hulls can really shoot,” Jacksonville coach Cliff Warren said. “We didn't do a good job of finding him in transition and we never made him do anything other than shoot threes. We never made him drive or really guard on defense, but give him credit. He made shots. That stretch when the game was close, he stretched it out himself.”