(17) Indiana 80

(8-2, 5-1 away)

Ball State 56

(4-4, 2-2 home)

    6:00 PM ET, December 31, 2005

    John E. Worthen Arena, Muncie, Indiana

    1 2 T
    #17IND 44 3680
    BALL 29 2756

    Top Performers

    Indiana: R. Vaden 22 Pts, 3 Reb, 6 Ast, 1 Stl

    Ball State: C. Bass 12 Pts, 6 Reb, 1 Stl, 3 Blk

    Indiana makes it 15 straight over Ball State 

    MUNCIE, Ind. (AP) -- Robert Vaden plays many roles for Indiana. On Saturday night, he was pressed into service as the ignitor.

    With the 17th-ranked Hoosiers sluggish and out-of-sync after an eight-day layoff, the 6-foot-5 sophomore swingman gave them a needed boost by pushing the ball into the middle. When Indiana started dominating inside, his teammates kicked it back to Vaden, who hit all six of his 3-point attempts.

    He sparked the Hoosiers' key spurt in the first half, tied his career-high with 22 points, had with six assists and led Indiana to an 80-56 rout of Ball State.

    "Over the last three or four games, he's really been aggressive offensively," Hoosiers coach Mike Davis said. "This is the way we expect him to play, and he's playing some great basketball."

    Vaden simply would not allow the Hoosiers (8-2) to fall into the same trap that tripped them up three weeks ago at Indiana State -- a failure to take advantage of their mismatches and getting rattled in front of a raucous road crowd.

    Thanks to Vaden's poise and determination, the Cardinals (4-4) were never able to exploit those advantages Saturday.

    Despite having Marco Killingsworth, Indiana's top scorer and rebounder, sit out 24 minutes because of foul trouble, the Hoosiers still managed to win their fourth straight overall and their 15th in a row in this series. Indiana hasn't lost to Ball State since 1937.

    But against one of the nation's top defenses, Vaden and Indiana were particularly efficient. Vaden was 8-of-11 from the field, including the six 3s, and the Hoosiers shot 55.3 percent.

    Vaden has connected on 10 straight 3-pointers in his last two games.

    "I'm just looking to make more plays for myself and my teammates," Vaden said. "I had 22 points, but I also had six assists, so I'm just trying to play my game."

    Ball State had no answer for Indiana's depth.

    After Vaden scored 17 points in the first half, Marshall Strickland scored all 18 of his points in the final 20 minutes. D.J. White finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in his first start since breaking his left foot in early November.

    Davis said White played with a torn ligament in his left hand, an injury he sustained in practice Thursday.

    And when the Hoosiers got Charles Bass and Skip Mills into foul trouble, the Cardinals were in big trouble.

    "They have an inside-outside game and you basically have to pick your poison," Ball State coach Tim Buckley said. "Part of it was fatigue, some of it was getting away from playing the way we need to be successful and it took us too long to try to get that back."

    Initially, it looked like the Hoosiers weren't ready for their second in-state road contest of the season.

    They threw the ball away three times before making their first basket, and Killingsworth drew his third foul -- on a technical -- midway through the first half. Killingsworth's error allowed Ball State to close an 8-3 run and take a 20-18 lead with 7:10 to go.

    That's when Vaden turned the game. He hit consecutive 3-pointers to give Indiana the lead, then fed White who drew a foul inside. After White's two free throws, Vaden connected on another 3 and when the 13-0 run ended with 4:42 left in the half, Indiana led 31-20.

    The Hoosiers led by as much as 44-26 in the first half before Mills' halfcourt buzzer beater. Mills finished with 16 points, while Bass had 12 points and six rebounds -- but the Cardinals never generated any momentum off Mills' long shot.

    "I was just trying to make something happen," Mills said. "A lot of my shots were coming up short and they were doing a pretty good job of double-teaming me, and I've got to get used to that."

    Indiana shot 10-of-17 in the second half, extended the lead to as many as 27 points, and, thanks to Vaden, decimated a Cardinals defense that had ranked among the best in the nation in allowing 56.6 points per game before Saturday.

    "My confidence is real high right now, and hopefully it will stay that way," Vaden said. "Coach runs plays for guys who have the hot hand, and I think that's the story."

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 80 56
    FG Made-Attempted 26-47 (.553) 19-54 (.352)
    3P Made-Attempted 12-20 (.600) 3-10 (.300)
    FT Made-Attempted 16-22 (.727) 15-23 (.652)
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 21 (0/0) 22 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 27 4

    2005-06 Season

    » Dec 31, 2005 IND 80, @BALL 56Recap