The top-ranked Hoosiers are loaded with offensive talent — Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Remy Abell.
The sophomore, a late addition to last year’s recruiting class of Zeller and Austin Etherington, is suddenly IU’s most efficient scorer. Abell was 5-for-5 from the field Monday night, finishing with 14 points in IU’s 87-61 win over North Dakota State in the Progressive Legends Classic.
Abell has just one miss in the Hoosiers’ first two games, on a free throw attempt Monday night. He’s 7-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from the line.
He averaged three points in 32 games last season, but classmate Cody Zeller isn’t surprised by Abell’s early success.
“He’s been doing that all summer, so that doesn’t surprise me,” said Zeller, who had game-highs in points (22) and rebounds (9).
Abell credited his teammates and the IU coaching staff for pushing him to be better this season.
“I knew I could get to the rim, but my teammates and the coaching staff helped me with my jump shot,” said Abell, who is 5-of-5 on 3-pointers after hitting just 6-of-15 from that range all of last season.
For an IU team still contending with the injury to Derek Elston and suspensions for Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin, the growth of Abell is a welcome addition.
“He had a very good freshman year, he did a good job with the opportunities he had,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “He went home and got his body in better shape. When he got back (in June), there was a better resolve.”
Abell’s not the only Hoosier who had a somewhat surprising game on Monday. Freshman Jeremy Hollowell also scored 14 points, hitting 4-of-8 from the field and 5-of-6 from the free-throw line.
Crean noted that Hollowell is one of the players he thinks could be a starter for the Hoosiers.
“He made some strides offensively tonight,” Crean said.
And Crean said that Zeller had another big game despite being sick.
“There’s probably other times that he isn’t feeling well and I never hear about it,” Crean said. “He probably should have stayed home.”
Jordan Hulls was the fourth Hoosier in double figures, scoring 11.
Marshall Bjorklund led the Bison (1-1) with 16 points. Mike Felt added 11.
The Bison never led, but took advantage of some sloppy play by the Hoosiers to pull within 6-5 early in the first half.
The Hoosiers cruised from there, though, taking a 42-29 lead into halftime. The Bison cut the lead to single digits again, but a 27-15 run put IU ahead by 21, and the Bison didn’t get any closer the rest of the way.
IU wraps up its home slate in the Legends Classic on Thursday, hosting Sam Houston State before next week’s games in Brooklyn.
Can Abell take that perfect field goal streak on from there?
“That would be great if I did it,” he laughed.