The Indiana Hoosiers attempt to continue their reign as the nation's top-ranked team on Saturday night when they play host to the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils.
After losing its first two games of the season, CCSU has won four of its last five games to move above .500 for the first time all season, with the most impressive win in that span coming at La Salle on Nov. 18 (81-74). The Blue Devils captured another road win on Wednesday night, downing New Hampshire, 87-84.
The Hoosiers came into the season as the nation's No. 1 team and they have done nothing to disprove that so far with wins in all eight of their contests, which include decisions against Georgetown (82-72 in OT) and North Carolina (83-59). Indiana made easy work of Coppin State last Saturday (87-51), giving it 26 straight wins at home against non-conference opponents, a streak that dates back to December of 2009.
This bout marks the first-ever meeting between these two programs.
Putting up points has not been a problem for CCSU through seven games, as it shoots a healthy 46.1 percent from the floor for nearly 77 ppg. The Blue Devils' hot hand continued against New Hampshire, as they shot 50 percent from the floor and 88.9 percent from the foul line to come away on the winning end of the shootout. All five starters scored in double figures in the victory, paced by Kyle Vinales with 27 points and seven assists. The sophomore has gotten used to high point totals in the early going, as he currently sits as the nation's leading scorer with 25.9 ppg, while also adding a team-best 3.7 apg. Matt Hunter tallied 18 points and eight rebounds in the win, while Joe Efese scored 15 points, Adonis Burbage netted 13 points, and Malcolm McMillian chipped in with 12 points. Hunter is usually the second option behind Vinales, averaging 17.0 ppg and 7.7 rpg, and Burbage (9.9 ppg) has made 44.7 percent of his three-point attempts.
Not only does Indiana shoot a lofty 51.1 percent from the floor for an Division I-best 87.8 ppg, but it also does a fantastic job keeping its opponents off the scoreboard, sporting great a field goal percentage defense (.357) and overall scoring defense (56.0 ppg). It was more of the same for the Hoosiers in the 36-point victory over Coppin State, as they made nearly 52 percent of their field goal attempts in a game in which they barely broke a sweat. Eleven different players scored in the win, paced by 14 apiece from Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey, who combined to add 12 rebounds and 10 assists as well. On the season, five IU players average in double figures on a nightly basis, paced by Cody Zeller (15.0 ppg, 7.6 rpg) and Oladipo (12.4 ppg, 5.1 rpg), who both shoot better than 63 percent from the floor. Sheehey (12.1 ppg), Jordan Hulls (12.1 ppg, 4.0 apg) and Christian Watford (11.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg) round out the balanced scoring attack. Kevin Ferrell (5.6 ppg) is the only starter who isn't consistent with his offensive output, but he makes up for it by dishing out a team-high 4.8 apg.