Evanston, IL – Cody Zeller recorded his 10th career double- double with 21 points and 13 rebounds and Christian Watford donated 14 points and six rebounds, as second-ranked Indiana rebounded from its second loss of the season with a 67-59 victory over Northwestern on Sunday.
Jordan Hulls added 15 points on 5-of-10 shooting from the floor and Victor Oladipo registered seven points and six boards for the Hoosiers (16-2, 4-1 Big Ten), who lost to Wisconsin on Tuesday.
Reggie Hearn finished with a game-high 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and Jared Swopshire contributed 13 points and eight rebounds for the Wildcats (11-8, 2-4), who have now lost eight of their last 13 games.
Back-to-back Hearn baskets gave Northwestern an early 4-3 edge, but that's the last lead the Wildcats had.
Indiana went on a 23-5 run and limited the 'Cats to just one basket -- an Alex Olah layup with 10:56 left in the first half -- until Tre Demps gave the home team its 11th point with 4:08 left before the break. At that point in the contest, Watford had as many points as the entire NU team.
The Hoosiers went into halftime up, 31-17, although Northwestern didn't exactly play poorly on the defensive side of the ball, rather on the offensive side.
After 20 minutes of play, the Wildcats shot a mere 30.4 percent, including just 1-of-9 from 3-point range. Hearn had nine points, while Zeller had eight boards, two steals and seven points at the break.
"We're much improved over the last few years," Northwestern coach Bill Carmody said about his team's defense. "Now we have to figure it out offensively. What bothers me is the rebounding. Our two centers had only one rebound between them, and that's scary. They play, say, 35 minutes and only get one rebound. That's just not acceptable. I think we're defending a lot better."
Northwestern didn't go down without a fight, and opened up the second half slowly chipping away.
A Dave Sobolewski 3-pointer, followed by a steal and open court slam by Swopshire, brought the Wildcats within 11, 45-34 at the midway point of the half.
Indiana struggled for the next five-plus minutes as Northwestern switched into 1-3-1 half court zone, and even pulled within five points, but a Zeller tip-in and a Oladipo trey with 4:52 left gave the Hoosiers a 54-43 cushion and the momentum back.
Hearn and Swopshire helped Northwestern threaten the Hoosiers with a six-point swing, thanks to three Hearn free-throws and Swopshire's third 3-pointer of the game to make it 56-51 with 2:31 left.
Indiana, however, proved why it's one of the nation's top-ranked free-throw shooting squads -- coming into the game leading in free throws made (349), and second-leading in free throws attempted, (470) -- and nailed nine from the charity stripe over the last 2-plus minutes to seal the win.
"I hope everybody understands - that's three straight wins on the road," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "I don't care where they're at. When you're in any league, but especially a league like this and you go out and you find a way to win on the road, that's a big, big deal. Our guys did it and they deserve it, and they've had an excellent week knowing that we have a big week in front of us."
Northwestern has claimed six of the last nine meetings in the series despite the loss ... The Wildcats and Hoosiers combined for just 12 total turnovers resulting in just 13 points ... Demps finished with 11 points and three rebounds ... Indiana shot 47.6 percent from the floor, and was 23-of-31 from the free throw line.