Indiana beats Iowa for 29th straight win at Assembly Hall

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) -- Indiana's big two scorers are scary enough. Now throw in an improving defense, more familiarity with the new faces and a burst of confidence, and it's an almost unbeatable combination.

Just ask Iowa.

D.J. White scored 19 points, Eric Gordon 17 and the rest of the Hoosiers clamped down on defense Wednesday night, leading Indiana (No. 8 ESPN/USA Today, No. 7 AP) to a 65-43 rout and its 13th consecutive win.

"I didn't realize we held them to 17 points and 21 percent [shooting] in the second half," coach Kelvin Sampson said. "This team is playing well. We just have to focus on getting better."

An even better Hoosiers team is certainly not something the rest of the Big Ten wants to contemplate.

The Hoosiers (17-1, 6-0) came into the game leading the conference in scoring, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage. And Wednesday night, they showed their defense could be just as dominant when their offense is a little off.

Indiana now has its longest winning streak and best start in conference play since 1992-93, the last time they won an outright Big Ten title. They also extended the nation's fourth-longest home-court winning streak to 29 and are off to their best overall start since the 1975-76 team went undefeated.

Still, the early part of the game didn't go according to Sampson's script when he waved his arms and hollered at players who were out of position or making poor decisions.

Once they cleaned things up, the Hoosiers reverted to being themselves with White and Gordon delivering the punch on offense and a suffocating defense ending any thought of an Iowa upset.

"This was a good win, and how we defended them was good, too," Sampson said. "We're getting better in that area."

Better defense certainly wasn't what the Hawkeyes (9-11, 2-5) needed to see at Indiana.

Iowa connected on just 6-of-28 shots in the second half, committed 20 turnovers and had only one player -- Tony Freeman with 14 points -- score more than eight.

It also wasn't the kind of homecoming Iowa coach Todd Lickliter envisioned in his return to Indiana, nor was it the kind of game the Hawkeyes expected of themselves after dropping a 79-76 contest in the first game against the Hoosiers this season.

"I think tonight they were more focused and they didn't relax," Freeman said. "I think in Iowa we came back because they started relaxing, they thought the game was over with. Here, they just put the game away."

Offensively, it was basically a two-man show for the Hoosiers. Gordon and White combined for 15 of Indiana's 25 baskets and 24-of-47 shots. While White failed to get his customary double-double, finishing with just four rebounds, Gordon and others more than made up for it.

Gordon finished with three assists, three steals and four blocks, and swingman Jamarcus Ellis had 12 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

Plus, White played better against Iowa's ball screens, a concern after the Jan. 2 game against Iowa.

"That was a point of emphasis for us after the mistakes we made the first time," White said. "You learn from those mistakes."

But the Hawkeyes struggled.

They allowed Indiana to take control with an early 9-0 run, then watched the game slip away during a 10-2 spurt separated by halftime. That allowed Indiana to extend its margin from 33-26 to a much more comfortable 43-28 with 16:12 to play.

Iowa never seriously challenged again.

"We know how good we can be and through the course of the game, I think we just get anxious and miss assignments," Freeman said. "With a team like Indiana, top ten in the country, they capitalize on those mistakes."

The Hoosiers repeatedly took advantage of Iowa's errors. They outscored the Hawkeyes 31-13 off turnovers, 32-16 in the pain, and when Iowa closed to 46-35 after a 7-1 flurry, the Hoosiers responded with eight straight points to seal the outcome.

Iowa matched its lowest point total of the season, also scoring 43 in an upset over Michigan State on Jan. 12, and left Bloomington with its most lopsided loss in the series since a 110-79 defeat on March 12, 1995.

Sampson looked at it another way. He hopes it's a sign of what's to come over the next two months.

"Defense, decision-making, shot selection, there is not an area that we haven't improved in," Sampson said. "We play our roles better now than we did earlier, and I still think this team is going to continue to improve."