<
>

Killingsworth scores 28 in Indiana debut to lead Hoosiers

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Marco Killingsworth's debut at Indiana
impressed almost everyone. Indiana coach Mike Davis got exactly
what he expected.

Killingsworth had 28 points, 13 rebounds, six assists -- all
career highs -- and four blocks, and Marshall Strickland added a
career-high 25 points Friday to lead Indiana (No. 22 ESPN/USA Today; No. 23 AP) past Nicholls
State 99-65.

"I wasn't really pleased with Marco tonight," Davis joked.

If it had been true, it would have only been because Davis has
watched Killingsworth's dominate practice for more than a year
since the Auburn transfer joined the Indiana program.

But if Killingsworth was a hidden gem before the Hoosiers'
season-opener, he certainly isn't now. Against one of the nation's
youngest teams, the Colonels have nine freshmen on the roster,
Killingsworth dominated.

He connected on 12 of 18 field goals, made his only 3-point
shot, faked a behind-the-back pass on a breakaway to free himself
for a layup and had a couple of dunks that brought the sold-out
crowd to its feet.

What Killingsworth showed in his first meaningful game in 20
months was that the wait was worth it. No problem.

"It felt good, it felt real good," he said. "We got the win,
and that's all that matters."

When Killingsworth wasn't scoring or feeding his teammates for
his easy baskets, Strickland was giving the Colonels (0-1) trouble
outside. Strickland, who moved from point guard to his more natural
spot of shooting guard this year, connected on 9-of-12 shots,
including 4-of-5 3-pointers.

The inside-outside combination overwhelmed Nicholls State, which
isn't likely to play a home game until the conference season begins
because their home gym was being used to house evacuees from
Hurricane Katrina.

Coach J.P. Piper simply asked his team to compete with the
Hoosiers -- and for a half it did. Stefan Blaszczynski scored 26
points and Ryan Bathie had 11 in a reserve role, but it wasn't
nearly enough against Killingsworth and Strickland.

"He's a beast, an absolute beast," Piper said of
Killingsworth. "What do you do when you tell a 6-9 freshman post
player that he's clobbering you on the block and then he steps
outside and hits 3s? I don't know, get in the weight room and look
like he does in three years?"

Davis' revamped Hoosiers looked like they had a complete
makeover.

The 52 first-half points were more than Indiana scored in five
complete games last year, and the final tally of 99 was Indiana's
most in a season-opener since the 1992-93 season when they beat
Murray State 103-80. That was also the last time Indiana won an
outright Big Ten title.

And they achieved that without two starters -- forward D.J. White
(broken foot) and guard A.J. Ratliff (broken thumb).

But Davis wasn't about to proclaim Indiana's troubles as over.

"We scored 99 points, and I still had that feeling that we've
got a long way to go," he said. "That's a good feeling, but we've
got to play better defense."

Davis has installed a new up-tempo offense this season, and it
appeared at times that it rattled Nicholls State.

After the Colonels jumped to an 8-4 lead, Indiana seized control
with a 20-6 run that gave them a 32-18 lead midway through the
first half.

The Colonels rallied, closing to 35-31 and were still within
45-40 with 1:28 left in the half. Indiana then scored seven
straight points, five from Strickland, to build a 52-42 halftime
lead.

"I think we had jitters early, some unforced turnovers, and
they sped it up a little bit," Strickland said. "Once we hit our
rhythm we started cruising."

Indiana wasted no time taking charge in the second half.

Killingsworth and Strickland led the way in a 15-5 run early in
the second half, extending the lead to 75-53 with 11:17 remaining.
Killingsworth made sure Nicholls State never challenged again.

"Marco is fantastic," Davis said. "You've still not really
seen him play. There's a lot of room for improvement. Twenty-eight
and 13, when's that last time we had a presence like that?"