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Howard vs Indiana

Time: 06:30 P.M. EST
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As Big Ten play approaches, Indiana is the only team in the conference without a loss.

Hoosiers coach Tom Crean isn't concerned about that - he just wants his players' progress to continue.

Back home for the first time since one of the program's biggest victories in years, the 17th-ranked Hoosiers go for their first 11-0 start since 1975 on Monday night when they face a Howard team that's lost 26 straight on the road.

After then-No. 19 Illinois lost to UNLV earlier Saturday, Indiana (10-0) remained the only undefeated Big Ten team with a 69-58 victory over Notre Dame in Indianapolis. The Hoosiers' conference expectations have obviously risen after going a Big Ten-worst 28-66 over the last three seasons, but Crean isn't yet worried about the start of conference play Dec. 28 at No. 19 Michigan State.

"In the sense of where we are in the Big Ten, that doesn't figure into our thought process," he said. "The fact that these guys have found 10 different ways to win and built on momentum, that's what's most important. And now, to go home on a short period of rest and time and preparation and get ready for the next game, that's the key."

Before welcoming Maryland-Baltimore County on Thursday, the Hoosiers will play their first home game since Christian Watford's 3-pointer at the buzzer gave them a 73-72 victory over then-No. 1 Kentucky at Assembly Hall on Dec. 10.

That victory vaulted Indiana into the Top 25 for the first time since Crean took over in 2008.

There may not be as much drama against Howard (3-8) as the Hoosiers go for their 18th straight home win in non-conference play. If that happens, Indiana would be 11-0 for the first time since the 1975-76 team finished a perfect 32-0.

The Bison arrive in Bloomington following Thursday's 93-72 loss at Oregon State. Howard is 0-6 away from home and has not won a road game since Jan. 18, 2010, against Norfolk State.

If that is going to change Monday, the Bison will have to take better care of the ball. They have 61 turnovers during their three-game overall skid.

Freshman guard Simuel Frazier has 29 turnovers in the last six games, but Howard could miss his scoring (9.2 points per game) after he missed the second half Thursday with an undisclosed injury.

Junior guard Calvin Thompson, who is averaging 10.8 points, could miss a second straight game with a groin injury.

That doesn't bode well for the Bison, who will face an Indiana team that held the Fighting Irish without a field goal for a 16:06 stretch.

"They're taking a lot of pride in their defense, and this will only help them and hopefully springboard them to more things," Crean said.

The Bison frontcourt of Mike Phillips and Alphonso Leary could have its hands full with the inside-outside threat of Watford and Cody Zeller.

Watford is shooting 48.1 percent (13 for 27) from 3-point range, while Zeller, a 6-foot-11 freshman, is averaging team highs of 15.6 points and 7.5 rebounds after scoring 21 with eight boards Saturday.

"We've got to play through Cody all the time because he does so many different things," guard Jordan Hulls said. "... He'll do whatever he needs to do to win."

The Hoosiers defeated the visiting Bison 83-60 on Nov. 13, 2009, in the schools' first matchup.

Watford had 14 points and 11 boards in that contest - his first collegiate game.

Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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