BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — As if on cue, Indiana seemed to be able to tell that it was going to get its toughest challenge of the month from Louisiana Tech on Monday night.
The Hoosiers were right, but they were ready, too. Exploding out of the gate early, Indiana built a big first-half lead and then cruised home with a 88-75 win over the Bulldogs, The Hoosiers are now 6-0, their best start to a season in six years.
It was also the most impressive of the six wins. The Hoosiers shot 61.3 percent in the first half, dashing out to a 39-16 lead thanks to a lot of defensive stops as well. Those first 14 minutes might have been their best 14 minutes of the season.
That was true partly because of the opponent. Louisiana Tech, one of the best teams in Conference USA who came in with a 4-1 record, was Indiana's toughest test in its seven-game November schedule, all played at Assembly Hall. The Bulldogs were ranked No. 87 in the kenpom.com national rankings; the Hoosiers' other six opponents are all No. 200 or higher.
Indiana came into the game ranked No. 4 in the country in scoring average (90.6) and No. 3 in field goal percentage (54.0), and they kept up that offensive efficiency early against Louisiana Tech.
Devonte Green, who missed the first three games and practically all of preseason practices with a hamstring injury, seems to be back at full strength now. He was really sharp Monday, scoring 15 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting that included three 3-pointers.
The second half was another story, a complete departure from the first half. At the midway point of the second stanza, Indiana's lead was down to 11 and they had more turnovers (9) than shots (8) at one point.
Indiana led 65-55 with 9 minutes to go, but then got two quick buckets inside from Joey Brunk and Trayce Jackson-Davis to get the lead back to 15. It stayed in double digits until the final minute, when a few Indiana turnovers led to easy baskets for the Bulldogs.
Indiana struggled from the field in the second half (8-of-25 shooting, and 0-for-6 from the 3-point line) but did a great job of getting to the line. They capitalized too, making 19-of-26 free throws in the period. They also were great on the boards, getting five offensive rebounds in the second half that all led to baskets.
Green finished the game with 16 points. Jackson-Davis led the way with 21, plus 11 rebounds. He made his first nine free throw attempts, and 11-of-13 on the night. He also had two blocks. Junior guard Al Durham had 18 points, and Joey Brunk had 12.
Sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee didn't play Monday, missing his second game of the season. He's been dealing with an abdominal issue since early October.
NEXT UP: Indiana's next game is Saturday afternoon against South Dakota State. The Jackrabbits, currently 5-3, will hook up with the Hoosiers starting at 4 p.m. ET.
RELATED: Indiana-Louisiana Tech box score