Cody Zeller kept No. 1 Indiana in control throughout the first half Monday night.
Remy Abell gave the Hoosiers the other big scorer they needed in the second half — and it came just in time for the Hoosiers to fend off pesky North Dakota State, 87-61, in Bloomington, Ind.
Zeller finished with 22 points and nine rebounds, while Abell scored a career-high 14, including 7 straight during the run that finally turned the game. Freshman Jeremy Hollowell had 14 points for the Hoosiers in the first round of the Progressive Legends Classic.
To Hoosiers fans, it was almost unsightly.
The energy that persisted throughout Friday night’s season opener just didn’t exist in the second game of the season. And while Indiana still had a solid rebounding advantage, it wasn’t as dominant against a team picked to finish second in the Summit League.
The bigger problem: Fouls.
North Dakota State wanted to challenge Indiana’s shots at any cost. The price was a constant parade to the free throw line, and for about 25 minutes, the plan worked remarkably well. With Indiana’s outside shooters struggling early, the Hoosiers couldn’t use their uptempo, inside-out game to pull away.
But Abell, Hollowell, and Zeller changed the equation with one big scoring flurry.
After the Bison cut the deficit to 48-38 when Mike Felt hit a 3-pointer with 15:55 to play, the Hoosiers offense finally got in synch.
Hollowell started the decisive run with a 3-point play and two more free throws. Abell followed that with another free throw and a layup. Zeller scored on a layup and a breakaway dunk to make it 60-43.
Indiana still wasn’t finished. Will Sheehey added a 3-pointer, Abell made two more threes, and closed out the run with a putback that made it 71-51. The Bison never threatened again.
North Dakota State was led by Marshall Bjorklund with 16 points while Felt had 11.
It looked like the Hoosiers might overcome their sluggish start much earlier, but North Dakota State answered an 18-9 run with 5 straight points to cut the lead to 6 and trailed, 42-29, at halftime.
Michigan 91, IUPUI 54 — Trey Burke scored 22 points and dished 10 assists and Glenn Robinson III added 21, leading the fifth-ranked Wolverines over overmatched Jaguars in the NIT Season Tip-Off.
Memphis 81, North Florida 66 — Tarik Black had 18 points and seven rebounds to help the No. 17 Tigers to a victory over the visiting Ospreys.
UNLV 92, Northern Arizona 54 — Anthony Bennett scored 22 points to lead five Rebels in double figures in a win over the Lumberjacks. UNLV extended its home winning streak to 19 regular-season games, as well as its Division 1 record for consecutive games with a 3-pointer (841).
Notre Dame 84, Monmouth 57 — Garrick Sherman had 22 points and seven rebounds to lead the No. 20 Irish past the Hawks in South Bend, Ind. Former St. John’s Prep star Pat Connaughton had 13 points for Notre Dame.
Pittsburgh 86, Fordham 51 — J.J. Moore netted 20 points to lead the Panthers (2-0) past the the Rams and into the semifinal round of the NIT preseason tournament.
Canisius 83, BU 75 — D.J. Irving’s 20 points and five assists weren’t enough to keep the Terriers from falling on the road against the Golden Griffins. Harold Washington scored 22 points and Billy Baron added 21 to lead Canisius.
Virginia Tech 69, Rhode Island 50 — Erick Green tied a career high with 25 points to pace the host Hokies. The Rams, who didn’t score in the first 5:08 of the game, were led by Xavier Munford’s 24 points.
Providence 81, Bryant 49 — The host Friars got a career-high 27 points from Kadeem Batts and 24 points and 11 rebounds from Bryce Cotton in a blowout of the Bulldogs.
Rutgers 88, Sacred Heart 62 — Eli Carter rebounded from a poor opening-night effort to come off the bench for 18 points and lead the host Scarlet Knights over the Pioneers. Louis Montes had 13 points for Sacred Heart and Tevin Falzon chipped in with 10.
St. Joseph’s (Pa.) 61, Yale 35 — No Bulldog scored more than 8 points in a beating at the hands of the host Hawks.
Saint Peter’s 64, Central Conn. 61 — Desi Washington scored 13 of his 23 points in the second half as the host Peacocks rallied to top the Blue Devils.
West Virginia 60, BU 57 — Senior Chantell Alford scored a career-high 30 points, but the Terriers weren’t able to upset the 17th-ranked Mountaineers in Case Gym.
Alford, who had nine rebounds, tied the game with two free throws with 30 seconds left, but Ayana Dunning answered with 3-pointer to cap a 16-point, 11-rebound night.
BC 3, Dartmouth 3 — Reagan Fischer potted two third-period goals to rally the host Big Green (4-1-1) to a tie with the No. 5 Eagles (4-3-2).