- Associated Press - Saturday, December 19, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indiana coach Tom Crean admitted after the game that he never thought his Hoosiers would play as much zone as they did Saturday afternoon against Notre Dame.

But it was that zone that forced jump shots and was clearly the difference for Indiana in the second half.

Indiana rallied from a 16-point second half deficit and scored the game’s final nine points in an 80-73 victory over Notre Dame Saturday in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The 16-point turnaround was the largest in Crean’s eight years at Indiana.

Troy Williams scored 18 points and pulled down 10 rebounds and made some clutch plays down the stretch but it was clearly the defense that was the difference for Indiana.

“You don’t go into the game thinking you’re going to spend a lot of time zoning Notre Dame but you do have to have it ready,” Crean said. “I thought the defense was aggressive and there was good communication. The bumps were strong and we were able to challenge shots and rebound.”

Indiana (9-3) won for the fourth game in a row and the victory was its first real quality victory of the non-conference season.

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey also credited the Indiana zone with being a major factor.

“What you’ve got to do is probably make a jump shot or two over that zone to escape today,” Brey said. “The momentum was swing and the building was swing their way. We could never really knock down another big jump shot to give us enough breathing room to escape.”

Notre Dame (7-3) led by 10 at the half and built the lead to 16 points on two occasions in the second half. The final time was 56-40 with 15:11 to play.

The lead was still eight at 71-63 with a 6:32 remaining. From that point on Indiana outscored Notre Dame 17-2 to close the game. Notre Dame made just 1 of its final 11 shots and also missed two free throws.

Indiana normally plays man-to-man defense the majority of the time. Saturday, it switched to a 2-3 zone in the second half and stayed with that during the comeback.

“We figured out rotations better as the game went on and the longer we were in it,” said reserve forward Collin Hartman. “A lot of guys were stepping up. Our communication was a lot better as the game went on which is a big part of our defense. You still have to guard a guy, keep them out of the lane but it’s just a mentality.

“We’ve been focusing on being aggressive on defense because that creates our offense. We can’t get out and run if we don’t get stops and steals and deflections.”

The Hoosiers got back into the game from 3-point range where it hit an even 50 percent of its 20 shots. Yogi Ferrell hit a pull up 3-pointer that tied the game at 71 with 4:09 to play.

Hartman hit two free throws with 57.5 seconds to play to give IU the lead for good at 75-73.

Williams scored 16 of his game-high 18 points in the second half. After making 1 of 6 shots in the first half he hit 5 of 8 in the second.

His biggest play though may have come on the defensive end. After IU had taken the 75-73 lead, Williams made a steal on top when he picked the pocket of Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson. He was fouled when he tried to score on the other end and made both free throws with 36.5 seconds to play.

Williams later hit two more foul shots with 18.2 seconds to play to cap off the IU scoring.

Robert Johnson had 17 points, James Blackmon Jr. had 11 and Thomas Bryant had 10 for Indiana.

Notre Dame was led by Bonzie Colson with a career-high 24. V.J. Beachem added 18.

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TIP-INS

Notre Dame: Bonzie Colson’s previous career high had been 17 points against Louisville and Duke, both as a freshman last season. His season-high this year had been 14 against Loyola of Chicago. . The Irish are now 2-1 this season against Big Ten opponents. Notre Dame had beaten both Iowa and Illinois in previous games. . The Irish had won three games this season and three in a row in the Crossroads Classic before falling to the Hoosiers.

Indiana: Troy Williams continued his hot play of late for Indiana. Last week he was named the national player of the week by CBSSports.com after averaging 14 points and 13 rebounds per game. . This is the seventh time in 12 games that Indiana has made at least 10 3-pointers in a game. . The eight rebounds by James Blackmon Jr. was one off his career high of nine set last season.

UP NEXT

Notre Dame plays host to Youngstown State on Monday at 7 p.m.

Indiana will host Kennesaw State on Tuesday at 6 p.m.

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