BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – In a game that looked like it was going to be a blowout early for Indiana, the Hoosiers found themselves in a battle late against Lamar Saturday night.
After leading by as many as 17, Indiana was forced to call a timeout with 3:37 remaining in the game when Lamar (1-3) cut Indiana's lead to seven. Following the late timeout, Indiana outscored the Cardinals 8-2 to close the game, ending in an 85 - 72 victory.
The Hoosiers (4-0) were led by freshman James Blackmon Jr. with 21 points on 6-of-10 shooting, including five three-pointers.
In his second game eligible, following a four-game suspension, freshman Emmitt Holt got his first action of the season for the Hoosiers, scoring four points, grabbing two rebounds and adding a steal in limited minutes.
"It was good to get him out there, and he needs to become a key contributor for us," Coach Tom Crean said. "He's going to be a key guy for us moving forward, especially without Devin (Davis)."
Upon entering the game in the first half, Holt provided instant energy, getting in the Lamar passing lane for a steal, and finishing a coast-to-coast drive that sparked a 7-0 run by the Hoosiers, which took Indiana to their largest lead of the game at 37-20.
Indiana sophomore Devin Davis was in attendance for the first time since being hospitalized with a serious head injury, resulting from being struck by a vehicle driven by Holt on November 1. Following Indiana's Holt-inspired run, Davis and the rest of Indiana's bench embraced Holt as he came off the court.
Indiana's junior point guard Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell expressed the emotions of having Davis back in the locker room. "To see him in the locker room. .I had my arm around him the whole time when we came back from warm-ups," Ferrell said. "Everybody was happy to see him, and we just want to get him back on the court because I think he can contribute."
Indiana: With the win over Lamar, Indiana extended its home winning streak vs. non-conference opponents to 43 games, which is behind only Duke (111) and Syracuse (53) for third longest in the country.
Lamar: Preston Mattingly, Evansville (IN) Central graduate and son of Los Angeles Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, started at point guard for the Cardinals and received a warm welcome from his home state crowd. Mattingly scored 4 points and contributed 3 rebounds and 4 assists.
As they did against SMU on Thursday, Indiana switched between zone and man-to-man throughout the game. Regardless of the scheme, Lamar was able to keep it close by penetrating off the dribble.
Crean credited the switching defenses as an attempt to limit the Lamar penetration.
"Really we were just trying to get the penetration stopped tonight," Crean said. "The bottom line is we've got to do a better job of containing penetration."
Indiana: Hosts Eastern Washington on Monday in the final game of the Hoosiers Showcase.
Lamar: Visits Arkansas State on Tuesday.