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BLOOMINGTON –- Jordan Hulls does not rest. Top-ranked Indiana's senior guard has no time for that. He does not dominate physically, blow past defenders, outmuscle opponents or leap a half-dozen of his teammates in a single bound.
Is that a problem?
Not even close.
Hulls is a hard-hat guy in an often coddled world. Letting others outwork him isn't an option.
Consider Hulls' typical pre-game warm-up. He is on the court, shooting three-pointers, free throws and midrange shots. He is there at least 30 minutes before his teammates arrive for their group warm-up, about 90 minutes before tipoff, pushing the pace.
It is not a blistering, leg-fatiguing workout, but neither is it a relaxed shoot-around. Hulls is all constant motion, sharpening his timing and preparing for IU's 40 minutes of fury.
“I try to do that before every game,” he says, “get my reps up and get a little sweat going.”
It is this kind of work ethic, and the results that come of it, that causes coach Tom Crean to insist Hulls can be a NBA guard, even though, if you go by appearance, Hulls has no chance.
Associate head coach Tim Buckley credits Hulls' dedication, which sometimes leads the senior to work out two or three times a day beyond practice. Buckley sometimes jokes that Hulls is only the second-best Hulls on campus now that his sister, Kaila, plays for the Hoosiers' women's team.
Jordan Hulls ranks third on the team in scoring (12.1 points) behind Cody Zeller (15.0) and Victor Oladipo (12.4). He has an impressive 32 assists against eight turnovers and that's with last Saturday's one-assist, three-turnover effort against Coppin State.
Hulls credits his ball efficiency with the play of freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell, who has a nearly as impressive 38 assists against 14 turnovers.
“Yogi has helped me out with that,” Hulls says. “I don't have the ball in my hands all the time. He and I are switching on and off (playing point guard). I play more of the 2 (shooting guard).
“I let the game come at me a little differently. Yogi's turnover ratio is pretty good as well. A big emphasis for us is taking care of the ball. This is my fourth year now, so I should be at the point where I don't turn it over much anymore.”
Gone is the early season uncertainty on whether Hulls and Ferrell would play at the same time. They have, and it's worked well. They combine for 17.7 points, 5.7 rebounds and 8.8 assists.
Hulls shoots at a 55.7 percent clip overall, 52.2 percent from three-point range. Ferrell has struggled with shooting. He's shooting 25.6 percent from the field, 12.5 percent from three-point range. However, he leads the team in free-throw shooting, at 88.9 percent.
“We feed off each other as far as him getting in the lane and kicking,” Hulls says. “Yogi is very explosive. He gets (in the paint) and makes great decisions. He's getting better at shooting. We have full confidence in him. He doesn't play like a freshman.”
Expect that to continue against Central Connecticut State (4-3), which comes in with momentum from Wednesday night's 87-84 win over New Hampshire. The Hoosiers (8-0) lead the nation in scoring (87.8 points) and in margin of victory (31.8 points).
“We're going to get everybody's best shot,” Hulls says. “They have to get our best shot as well.”
Central Connecticut State lacks much size. It doesn't have a player taller than 6-8. It also lacks depth. The five starters average 36.1 minutes per game. By comparison, Hulls leads the Hoosiers in minutes played, averaging 27.6 minutes.
Kyle Vinales, a 6-1 sophomore guard, is the leading scorer at 25.7 points. He had 32 points in a loss at Hartford. He averages 39.5 percent on three-pointers and 85.2 percent from the free-throw line.
Junior guard Matt Hunter averages 16.8 points and 7.7 rebounds. Guard Malcolm McMillan averages 7.3 points and 5.0 rebounds.
Central Connecticut State, which was 13-16 last season, is projected to finish in the middle of the pack in the Northeast Conference. The Blue Devils are in the same conference as Bryant, which IU beat 97-54 in the season opener.
Crean spent most of this week recruiting on the East Coast. Prospects included 2015 shooting guard Malachi Richardson and 2016 point guard Asante Gist from New Jersey. Crean also watched Noah Vonleh play a game. Vonleh is part of next year's heralded IU freshman class.