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Indiana beats UNC Greensboro 87-79

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — If Indiana’s current three game stretch has taught the Hoosiers anything, it’s that no lead is safe.

Just when it looked like Indiana was going to put their foot on the gas Friday night and turn a large second half lead into an emphatic, no-contest victory for the first time in their last three tries, UNC Greensboro stormed back.

Indiana (5-1) led by as many as 22 points in the second half, before UNC Greensboro (1-5) cut the lead to just six in the final moments of the game, with Indiana holding on for a 87-79 victory over the Spartans. The Spartans outscored Indiana 45-37 in the second half.

This follows back-to-back games in which Indiana had double digits leads erased, including Indiana’s loss to Eastern Washington on Monday, in which the Hoosiers led by as many as 12 in the second half.

“I don’t think they’re changing things schematically, as we’re losing a bit of our attentiveness defensively (in second halves),” Coach Tom Crean said.

After leading 50-34 at half, Indiana pulled to their largest lead early in the second half at 56-34.

Perimeter defense continued to be an issue for the Hoosiers though, as the Spartans wouldn’t go away, hanging around with hot shooting from behind the arc. The Spartans shot 14 of 23 from distance, hitting 7 of 9 in the second half.

Twelve of the Spartans’ 14 3-pointers came from Nicholas Paulos and Clay Byrd, with each knocking down six. Paulos finished with 24 points on 9-of-12 shooting and Byrd finished with 20 points on 7-of-13 shooting.

“We got caught up in screens. . We weren’t as attached as we needed to be defensively,” Crean said. “We were just a step late on the threes, then we didn’t have communication the way we need to have it.”

Lack of communication hurt the Hoosiers again when they failed to match-up following a substitution. The Defensive lapse led to an open 3 for Byrd early in the shot clock, cutting the Hoosier’s lead to 12. Troy Williams turned it over on Indiana’s next possession, leading to a drive and score by UNC Greensboro’s Tevon Saddler, pulling the Spartans within 10 at 69-59 with 9:38 remaining and forcing a timeout by Indiana.

“I gotta take full responsibility,” Crean said. “It’s not on our assistants, on nobody else but me to get our communication right.”

And, for the third straight game, the Hoosiers found themselves in a close ball game down the stretch.

Clutch free throw shooting late by Indiana’s two leading scorers, James Blackmon Jr. and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, kept the game out of reach and secured a victory for Indiana.

Blackmon led Indiana with 25 points and 9 rebounds. Ferrell finished with 15 points and six assists.

TIP-INS

Indiana: Freshman James Blackmon Jr. was one shy of his career high, and has now scored twenty or more points in four of his first six games as a Hoosier.

UNC Greensboro: Leading scorer RJ White, who is averaging 16.2 points per game for the Spartans, was held scoreless on the night, taking just two shots in 14 minutes of action.

FRESH START

After having the same starting lineup for the first five games, Troy Williams made his first start of the season for Indiana. Williams scored 11 points and grabbed four rebounds in 25 minutes.

UP NEXT

Indiana: Hosts Pittsburgh on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

UNC Greensboro: Hosts High Point on Monday.

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