TERRE HAUTE —
What do you expect when a Division II team pays a visit to a Division I arena?
In Truman State’s case, you can expect a pretty good showing. Indiana State had some nervous moments against the Bulldogs, but the Sycamores prevailed 80-69 on Friday at Hulman Center.
ISU continued its high-scoring ways. It scored 80 points for the fourth consecutive contest, the first time that’s happened since 1984.
A lot of the scoring damage was done, or created, in the paint. ISU drove relentlessly against the Bulldogs. ISU scored 42 points in the paint and set up several scores on the perimeter off its drives.
Justin Gant was the biggest beneficiary. He scored a career-high 23 and posted up Truman State’s Mike Carlson to score many of the Sycamores’ points in the paint.
“We have a lot of great scorers on the team. We have people who can make their own shots or people who can use our offense with cuts and screens to get good shots,” Gant said. “But we’re also giving up a lot of points.”
That’s what was on Lansing’s mind after the game. Truman State shot 55.6 percent from the field, including 59 percent in the second half.
“We had a lot of defensive miscommunications and breakdowns all over the place. You can’t beat good teams giving up 56 percent shooting,” Lansing said.
For a team that prides itself in its defense, another shaky performance in that department was bothersome.
“Last year we were holding teams in the 30s and 40s shooting percentage. This year, its been a lot higher. It kind of hurts us a bit. It’s something we want to build our team around, but we haven’t done it yet,” Gant said.
Carlson proved to be the biggest challenge. He scored 20 and proved hard to stop inside and on the perimeter, where he made three 3-pointers. Carlson also had a nice passing touch in the paint. He had seven assists.
Truman State’s offense — which featured constant cutting and screens — proved difficult to stop for ISU. ISU lamented its defense, but gave credit to the Bulldogs for their tenacity. The comparison was made to Evansville’s version of the motion offense, a high compliment from the Sycamores.
“That’s a great team we just played. Honestly, that’s one of the better offenses in the country. We kept competing and it will help us against teams like Evansville,” Brown said.
Carlson’s multi-faceted attack had the Sycamores off-balance to start the contest. Truman State took an 18-13 lead at the 12:13 mark and Carlson scored nine of the Bulldogs’ points.
The Sycamores took a breath and fed the post. Gant scored six points in succession to wipe out the Bulldogs’ advantage. Devonte Brown picked up the mantle from there and scored the next four points via dribble-penetration.
Brown had one his most productive games. He had a career-high 13 points, seven rebounds and five assists.
“If he can be a steadying influence, that would be great. He always picks us up. For him to have five assists and zero turnovers is tremendous. I’m happy with how he played tonight,” Lansing said.
ISU’s success on the offensive end provided more oomph on the defensive end. Truman State scored two field goals in a seven-minute span and ISU built its advantage to 42-29 by the 1:36 mark and led by 11 at halftime.
Truman State wasn’t fazed. The Bulldogs closed to within two early in the second half as they took advantage of uneven ISU defense.
ISU’s response was to continue to pound the ball inside. The Sycamores inched ahead little-by-little as Truman State’s inability to make stops in the lane got it into foul trouble.
ISU went to the line 21 times in the second half and had a 70-64 advantage by the 6:19 mark. The Bulldogs tired down the stretch and a 9-0 ISU run finished the Bulldogs off.
“Our guys responded OK. Offensively, we’ve been pretty decent, but I just look at the defensive end, with all of our miscues, and I know we’ve got a lot of work to do before we head to Alaska,” Lansing said.
ISU next travels to Anchorage, Alaska to play in the Great Alaska Shootout. The first of ISU’s three games is at 11:30 p.m. Wednesday against Tulsa.
ISU defeats Truman Bulldogs make Sycamores work hard for 80-69 victory
TERRE HAUTE —
What do you expect when a Division II team pays a visit to a Division I arena?
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