TERRE HAUTE —
The game didn’t really count, being merely an exhibition, but Indiana Wesleyan was looking for the upset and Indiana was looking to prove why they’re ranked No. 1.
The Wildcats took advantage of a sluggish start by the Hoosiers to lead for most of the first half Thursday night. But Maurice Creek provided a spark off the bench to lift Indiana to an 86-57 victory.
Creek hadn’t played since Jan. 15, 2011, missing all of IU’s comeback season a year ago because of his third injury in as many years. But he received a standing ovation when he checked into the game, and another when he gave IU its first lead of the game with a 3-pointer.
“Standing ovation, that’s love,” Creek said.
Creek finished with a team-high 12 points, hitting 4 of 6 from the field.
Indiana coach Tom Crean was pleased with Creek’s shooting, but it was his burst that he enjoyed seeing most.
“I think the way he came off the dribble … When he shows that burst, that shows that the legs are getting a little stronger,” Crean said. “He’s still a little ways away … he was very active defensively.”
“It felt great [to be back out there],” Creek said.
“The guy’s put in the work, for him to come out and play well [shows] it pays off,” Will Sheehey said. “We’re looking forward to him playing well all season.”
Creek said he wasn’t thinking about the injuries when he took to the court.
“I try not to think about it,” he said. “I feel like when people think about it, that’s when they get hurt.”
The Hoosiers were hurting defensively early on. The Wildcats hit five of their first six shots to build a 13-4 lead. And Indiana Wesleyan was up 25-24 when Creek hit a 3-pointer for IU’s first lead.
The Wildcats answered with a 3-pointer by Zac Vandewater, but Sheehey scored the next four points to put IU ahead for good.
“The first 10 minutes, we didn’t get off to a great start,” Sheehey said. “That’s part of playing, part of getting used to each other.”
“We expected Indiana Wesleyan to be a tough team,” Crean said. “I’m really glad we scheduled them.”
One area the Hoosiers might focus on before the season-opener on Nov. 9 would be free throws. IU made just 17 of 29 (58.6 percent).
Four other Hoosiers scored in double figures, with Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Sheehey each scoring 11 and Victor Oladipo adding 10 points.
Any questions about the ability of incumbent point guard Jordan Hulls to mesh with newcomer Yogi Ferrell were put to rest from the start, with the Hoosiers starting the two along with Watford, Zeller and Oladipo.
Three of IU’s ballyhooed freshmen played Thursday night. Ferrell had eight points, four rebounds and four assists, while Jeremy Hollowell had five points and six rebounds and Peter Jurkin scored four.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea, the fourth freshman, was in a walking boot and did not play.
Patrick Hopkins led the Wildcats with 14 points. Jordan Weidner scored 10.