Updated at: 12/08/2012 6:35 PM
By MICHAEL MAROT
(AP) BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - No. 1 Indiana had another strong offensive game on Saturday, and it looks as if the Hoosiers can play defense, too.
While Christian Watford scored 21 points and Cody Zeller had 19 points and a career-high 19 rebounds, it was the Hoosiers’ suffocating defense that had the starring role in a 100-69 victory over Central Connecticut State.
Indiana is off to its second straight 9-0 start under Tom Crean. It has won 13 straight at Assembly Hall and 27 consecutive non-conference home games.
Coming into the weekend, the matchup looked like an intriguing shootout. After all, Central Connecticut State has one of the most potent scorers in the country in Kyle Vinales and another dangerous option in Matt Hunter.
Instead of a tight one, this one was over in the first half, with Indiana using a full week of preparation to clamp down on the Blue Devils.
Offensively, the Hoosiers were almost flawless, connecting on 22 of 35 shots in the first half and shooting 54.2 percent for the game. They made seven 3-pointers. In their first 22 baskets, 12 were layups or dunks.
Defensively, it was also an impressive show for the improving Hoosiers. Central Connecticut State shot just 33.3 percent and Vinales, the nation’s top scorer at 25.9 points per game, was just 3 of 15 from the field and finished with seven points.
Hunter poured in 40 points, matching an Assembly Hall record for a visiting player, but the Blue Devils (4-4) never had a chance against Indiana’s comprehensive performance.
They did take one lead, on the game’s first basket, and were within one with 14:15 left in the first half.
That’s when the Hoosiers cranked up the heat on both ends of the floor.
Yogi Ferrell started the decisive 22-2 run with a spinning 2-footer. Jordan Hulls followed with a 3. Then Zeller posted up for a layup, Maurice Creek hit another 3 and Zeller posted up for another layup to make it 27-16 with 11:44 to go.
Central Connecticut State never got within single digits again, and that was just the start.
When Victor Oladipo drove in for a thunderous one-handed dunk, drew a foul and completed a three-point play, Indiana led 37-16 and the crowd was roaring. Oladipo had 15 points, nine rebounds, five steals and three blocks.
The Hoosiers led 53-34 at halftime. After Central Connecticut State opened the second half with a basket, Indiana went on a 13-5 run that made it 66-41.
There was one concern for the nation’s No. 1 team: Sophomore forward Austin Etherington left late in the first half with what appeared to be a left leg injury.
He was hurt on a play underneath the basket with 2:28 to go. He crashed to the floor after being called for a foul and remained on the ground as trainers rushed to help, covering his leg with a towel and calling for assistance.
Etherington was eventually lifted onto a stretcher, with teammates and coaches at his side, and wheeled off the court.
Team officials did not have an immediate update on the injury, but it was another blow for a team that has played its first nine games without forward Derek Elston (knee surgery) and freshmen Hanner-Mosquera Perea and Peter Jurkin, who are expected to return next weekend after serving a nine-game NCAA-imposed suspension for receiving improper benefits from what enforcement officials deemed was an Indiana booster.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)