NCAA BK

Mount St. Mary's-Indiana Preview

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Indiana had three days to let its first loss of the season sink in. Now, the Hoosiers have three favorable matchups to get back on track before Big Ten play.

Playing without the nation's top ranking for the first time this season, No. 6 Indiana will meet Mount St. Mary's on Wednesday night in the first of three straight home games against small conference foes.

Numerous things went wrong for the Hoosiers (9-1) in an 88-86 overtime loss to Butler in Indianapolis on Saturday, decided by a jumper with 2.4 seconds left from Bulldogs walk-on Alex Barlow. Indiana shot a season-low 42.9 percent and gave up a season-worst 47.8.

But above all, coach Tom Crean pointed to rebounding. The Hoosiers were outrebounded 40-38 after grabbing an average of 13.8 more boards than their first nine opponents and having at least a plus-five advantage against all of them.

Indiana also allowed a season-high 19 offensive rebounds, off which Butler scored 27 points. The Hoosiers were outscored 42-32 in the paint.

"I'm excited about the rebounding drills we are going to do even though I'm not sure there are many people who are going to share my excitement about that," Crean said. "Because right now that's an area that we really need to prove ourselves."

Seven-footer Cody Zeller scored 18 points but was limited to 4 of 9 from the field and five rebounds. The preseason All-American came in averaging 8.9 boards. Senior forward Christian Watford tied a season low with three rebounds.

"There's a lot of things (to work on)," said Zeller, averaging 15.7 points while shooting 60.7 percent from the field. "We got outrebounded. There's a lot of little things that we have to figure, but we'll get back to work and figure them out."

Following Wednesday's game, the Hoosiers will host Florida Atlantic and Jacksonville before heading to Iowa on New Year's Eve to open their conference schedule.

Indiana will have to defend one of the nation's most 3-point-dependent offenses after letting Butler shoot 45.8 percent from 3-point range. Mount St. Mary's (4-4) ranks among the top teams in both 3-pointers made (8.9) and attempted (25.9) per game, and 39.2 percent of their made field goals have been from long distance.

The Mountaineers went cold from beyond the arc in their last game, going 8 of 34 in a 79-57 loss to Loyola (Md.) that snapped a three-game winning streak.

In two games against major conference teams - Pittsburgh and Georgetown - they lost by an average of 27.0 points.

Mount St. Mary's owns the nation's worst field-goal defense, allowing opponents to hit 56.9 percent - likely a bad recipe against an Indiana squad that shoots 50.6 percent.

The Hoosiers haven't lost a non-conference home game since a 72-67 defeat to Loyola (Md.) on Dec. 22, 2009. The Mountaineers are 1-19 all-time against ranked teams, with their only victory coming Dec. 18, 1995, at No. 21 Georgia Tech.

Wednesday is the schools' first meeting.

Tagged: Indiana, Mount St. Mary's, Butler

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