News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

January 1, 2012

Second-half surge lifts Indiana State past Bradley

TERRE HAUTE — With 18 minutes to go in the game, it seemed Indiana State’s men’s basketball world was hurtling out of control.

The Sycamores had struggled to get their offense going in the first half, with their starters shooting a combined 5 of 22 from the field before the break.

On the defensive end — where ISU prides itself on being a shutdown team — Bradley was mocking that notion with a 50 percent performance from the field.

ISU’s state of affairs was so disconcerted that ISU coach Greg Lansing said he considered using a zone defense.

What was ISU’s world coming to?

Just as suddenly, however, ISU’s world began to spin on its proper axis. At the turn of a dime, ISU not only began to defend better, but defend decisively.

And the offense? Myles Walker — he of the 2 of 7 first half that included a botched dunk — became an inside force. Jake Odum, who had struggled with his jump shot, not only began to bury outside attempts, but broke Bradley’s defense down off the dribble too.

The result was ISU’s steadiest second half of the season as it defeated Bradley 77-66 in front of 5,224 at Hulman Center.

“I was angry to start the second half. I called a timeout and let them have it a little bit. Our guys are competitive guys. We have to have a defensive mentality, we can win some games. That’s where it has to start for us,” Lansing said.

ISU’s offense also got going. Odum scored a career-high 24 points — 13 coming in the second half. It was a satisfying performance for the sophomore point guard. He hit one 3-point shot, made another long two-point jumper, and was more of a factor in driving to the basket to make himself a scoring threat.

“It’s about time. I’ve been struggling a lot this year on offense. Seeing that [3-pointer] fall in the first half really got me going. Maybe I can snowball this one into the rest of the season,” Odum said.

It all came as Odum continued to play through plantar fasciitis. He rubbed his pain-wracked left foot during timeouts and was in obvious discomfort as ISU exited the floor.

Walker scored 16 points and had nine rebounds. He had six points at halftime but asserted himself in the paint after the break. The senior played a role in three of ISU first four field goals after the break. He made two himself and had another miss rim out for Carl Richard to putback for a bucket.

Walker attributed his slow start to a minor shoulder injury.

“It’s just a little nagging thing I picked up in practice, by the next game, it’ll be gone, but I was a little timid about not trying to hurt my arm [in the first half],” Walker explained. “[In the second half] I concentrated on getting rebounds and scoring when I needed to.”

ISU’s second-half defensive renaissance came suddenly. Bradley scored on its first four possessions of the second half and was shooting 50 percent from the field at the time. Lansing called a timeout. In no uncertain terms, he reminded the Sycamores that defense was their calling card.

They took the message to heart. Bradley (5-9, 0-2) made just five field goals in the final 18 minutes of the game. Not only did ISU make Bradley’s shooters work harder, but it also made the hustle plays to get the Braves into foul trouble.

Sophomore R.J. Mahurin drew four charges against the Braves — a big reason why Bradley scorers Taylor Brown and Walt Lemon Jr. fouled out, along with freshman Shayok Shayok.

“He was a huge lift for us in the second half. Taking charges is a game-changer. It’s a big-time play and R.J. is our best at it,” Lansing said.

Down 45-43 at the 17:11 mark, ISU put together an 8-0 run to build a gap the Braves would never breach. The Braves would get within three at the 10:54 mark, but aside from that, ISU didn’t let the Braves get back into the contest. ISU had been prone in some other games to let teams back into the game, but Bradley got no closer than eight in the final five minutes of the game.

“They shot 25.8 percent in the second half, that’s what wins games,” Odum said. “Other than fouling and putting them at the line, we did a pretty good job.”

The first half was a different story for the Sycamores. ISU shot 34.4 percent, and in an unwelcome reprise of its 79-64 loss at Drake last Wednesday, couldn’t stop the Braves from scoring. Bradley shot 50 percent in the opening half.

What saved ISU’s bacon was dominance on the boards. ISU had a 23-14 edge in rebounds in the first half and scored 12 second-chance points in the first half. It was the biggest reason the game was tied 35-35 at the half.

ISU went on to earn a 46-31 advantage on the boards.

“You’re not going to beat a NCAA Tournament team on their home floor getting outrebounded by 15,” Bradley coach Geno Ford said.

ISU (10-3, 1-1) next travels to Northern Iowa on Wednesday.

n Lansing loves the Pizza Hut Classic — Lansing has been a frequent visitor to the Wabash Valley Pizza Hut Classic, which stands to reason since ISU has had incoming players in the tournament since the mid 2000s.

Lansing attended Terre Haute North’s 57-44 championship game victory over Sullivan and had a blast.

“It was such an exciting atmosphere. It’s an unbelievable tournament. It’s so much fun,” Lansing said. “It makes you feel so good about the community you live in and the smaller communities around us.”

Lansing was even understanding about the derision future ISU recruit and Sullivan standout Rhett Smith drew from North’s fans.

“Terre Haute North fans were all over Rhett Smith last night, but I know they’ll support him next year,” Lansing said.

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