BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Joey Brunk asserted himself in the post Wednesday night. Devonte Green reverted to playing like his old self.
Together, they were an unbeatable combination.
Both scored a season-high 16 points and the Indiana Hoosiers took advantage of a stifling second-half defense to pull away for a 79-54 blowout over Princeton.
“I think he stepped up to the challenge,” coach Archie Miller said of Brunk. “He just hasn't been as aggressive or as assertive as he can be yet. Around the basket, he was really good and we found him, too. But I was more proud with what Joey did defensively than with what he did offensively.”
The result: Indiana is 5-0 for the first time in six years and seems to be improving by the game.
For Brunk, the graduate transfer from Butler, it was easily his best performance of the season. He went 7 of 11 from the field, had a season-best eight rebounds, two steals, one block and played a pivotal role in spurring the Hoosiers’ decisive second-half scoring flurry.
Green, one of three Indiana seniors, returned from a hamstring injury on Saturday. By Wednesday, he was knocking down shots, making one-handed passes, even hugging teammates after making 5 of 8 from the field while dishing out four assists.
“I feel a lot more comfortable,” Green said. “I’ve been out for a while so it feels good to be back and I felt comfortable with the guys.”
That was good for Indiana; not so much for Princeton (0-4), which has lost eight straight since the end of last season.
And this one might have been the most frustrating.
Jaelin Llewellyn scored 13 of his 15 points in the first half when Princeton went toe to toe with the Hoosiers. Ryan Langborg had 13 but the Tigers, who shot 28.7% from the field in the second half and were just 2 of 13 against a noticeably more aggressive Indiana defense.
“We can never hang our heads, right? We fought well in the first half but that’s not enough,” coach Mitch Henderson said. “I thought we grew a lot tonight.”
The Tigers led 25-24 late in the first half and tied the score at 31 before the Hoosiers closed the half by scoring the final four points to make it 35-31.
Princeton cut the deficit to two on the first basket of the second half, but the Hoosiers scored four straight and Brunk scored six in the midst of a 14-4 run that gave Indiana a 53-37 advantage with 12:07 to play. The Tigers couldn’t get closer than 14 the rest of the way.
Princeton: The Tigers certainly didn’t look like a winless team. They defended hard and stayed close for an entire half. They just lacked the size depth to hang with the Hoosiers for a full 40 minutes.
Indiana: The Hoosiers changed the game with their aggressiveness on offense and defense in the second half. They made it much harder for Princeton to run its offense and exploited the inside in the second half.
Princeton: Tosan Evbuomwan also scored 10 points. ... The Tigers committed 15 turnovers and were just 6 of 27 on 3-pointers, 2 of 13 in the second half. ... Princeton was outscored 50-22 in the paint and 22-9 off turnovers.
Indiana: Justin Smith had 14 points and Trayce Jackson-Davis added 11. ... The Hoosiers have won their five games by margins of 30, 33, 11, 38 and now 25 points. ... Al Durham scored six points and had a career high six assists. ... The Hoosiers were 3 of 10 on 3s and committed only nine turnovers, three in the second half.
Princeton faces its second straight power-conference foe Tuesday when Arizona State comes to town.
Indiana welcomes Louisiana Tech to Assembly Hall on Monday in the third game of the Indiana Challenge.