NEW YORK — Indiana’s shots were not falling and the top-ranked Hoosiers were getting a taste of their own medicine with some tough man-to-man defense from Georgia.
It was just a matter of waiting, coach Tom Crean said.
Victor Oladipo had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Indiana to a 66-53 victory over Georgia on Monday night in the semifinals of the Progressive Legends Classic at the Barclays Center.
Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford both had 14 points for the Hoosiers (4-0), and they were the ones who finally started hitting from long range as Indiana established control of the game.
“We had a lot of energy sources tonight,” Crean said. “Vic at the start of the second half, he was tremendous. He’s one of the best defenders around, no question, but he doesn’t get the credit for being a total basketball player. ... When he’s flying up the court, he makes us a lot better.”
Then there are the missed shots.
“We just missed some shots. The thing that hurt us more was the eight turnovers. We could never get the pace going the way we wanted and give Georgia credit for that,” Crean said. “There weren’t many shots we’d take back, just a couple. It happens at home, on the road, here. It just happens.”
The Hoosiers, who came into the game shooting 39.4 percent from three-point range missed 11 of the first 12 shots they took from behind the arc. Watford hit a three with 10:06 left in the game to end the shooting slump and extended Indiana’s lead to 45-40.
Hulls hit threes on consecutive possessions to make it 51-42, and Oladipo scored down low with 7 minutes left for the first double-digit lead of the game by either team, 53-42. The Hoosiers went on to lead by as many as 17 points.
“We did a lot more in the second half,” Hulls said. “In the first half the shots weren’t falling and that’s going to happen. We play with more intensity when the shots aren’t falling and that usually means we’re playing good defense.
The Hoosiers will face Georgetown, a 78-70 winner over No. 11 UCLA, for the title tonight.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Vincent Williams scored 14 points each for Georgia (1-3), which lost its third straight.
“That was a very hard-fought game, one we thought we could win, and the real difference, I thought, was their experience really started to show,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We had a lot of inexperience plays, several possessions where we didn’t keep our poise and they capitalized on some immature mistakes we made in the second half.”
Indiana finished 5 of 16 from three-point range (31.3 percent) and the Hoosiers had a 40-24 advantage on the boards.
Cody Zeller was limited to 9 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble. He finished with six points, four rebounds and four turnovers.
“They came out and defended very well,” Zeller said. “The foul problems could have taken me out of the flow a little bit, but in the second half we started to play the way we do.”
Indiana shot 44.9 percent overall (22 of 49) while Georgia shot 34 percent (22 of 49).
“We started slow out of the gate this season and played very poorly,” Fox said. “For 30 minutes tonight we looked like the team we thought we could be but we just couldn’t make it last all game. The key is to learn to play 40 minutes, not 30 and that is the next step for our group.”