By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON -- Tom Crean wanted a fresh start Saturday night.
Boy, did he get it.
Although the Hoosiers lacked some of their usual finesse, they played with enough heart, passion and determination to hand Crean a memorable 83-65 victory over Northwestern State in his first game as Indiana's coach.
"Our players will never forget it, their first win inside Assembly Hall," Crean said. "None of us will ever forget it. But I told them this would be indicative of the whole year. There is not going to be one team that comes in here and thinks they can't win."
For the Hoosiers (1-0), the game marked the start of yet another new coaching era. But unlike previous seasons, fans weren't sure what to expect from this overhauled team. Fourteen players on the 16-man roster were making their Indiana debuts, only four had ever played in a Division I game and only three were taller than 6-foot-6. The transition forced fans, who usually chant players names when they excel, to wait until the final minutes before uttering one name they did recognize: Tom Crean.
And there were plenty of candidates they could have honored. Devan Dumes finished with 21 points, hitting four 3-pointers. Freshman Verdell Jones added 18 points, including 10-of-13 from the free throw line, and Tom Pritchard, another freshman, added 13 points and 10 rebounds for his first collegiate double-double.
All three, like Crean, were making their first appearance in Assembly Hall.
"We're up against a lot of challenges this year, and I don't think any of our players or coaches don't know what we're up against," said Dumes, who started his college career at Eastern Michigan. "I'm expecting us to play hard every night."
That's been a trademark of Crean's teams.
Not surprisingly, Crean lauded his team for its effort and its ability to move the ball. He was more concerned about the Hoosiers inability to grab rebounds and limit turnovers.
But, clearly, they played harder than other Indiana teams, and it proved to be the difference.
Indiana forced Northwestern State (0-1) into 30 turnovers and drew 35 fouls, averaging nearly one a minute in each category during the first half and again early in the second half. The combination turned a close game into a rout.
"You know, sometimes I feel like we're the Barnum and Bailey Circus because we play in so many big venues like this," Northwestern State coach Mike McConathy said. "But you rarely see teams at this level play as hard as they do."
Crean worked his magic by masterfully making substitutions to keep a team without much depth fresh.
About the only mistake he made all night was wearing a blue button-down shirt with a red tie -- the usual game attire for his predecessor, the disgraced Kelvin Sampson.
But that made little difference to the 13,446 fans who came to see if Indiana's youngsters could extend the season-opening winning streak to 11.
Mission accomplished -- despite some consternation.
Northwestern State took advantage of the nervous Hoosiers early, building a 12-5 lead in the first four minutes. Damon Jones finished with 17 points and Kalem Porterie with 12 to lead the Demons.
But as Northwestern State's mistakes piled up, the Hoosiers settled down.
They climbed back methodically, then used a 15-3 spurt to take a 28-21 lead with 7:19 left in the half. Nearly half of those 15 points were from the free-throw line, a trend that would continue the rest of the night.
"They did the best job of any team I've played since coming here of splitting our pressure, if you want to call it that," McConathy said. "I think we were not in position. We've got to learn to not do that."
Indiana made it look easier in the second half.
As the Hoosiers continued forcing mistakes, they turned a 38-29 halftime lead into a 45-32 advantage in less than two minutes and finally sealed it with a 9-2 run over a five-minute stretch that ended midway through the second half with Indiana holding a 60-42 edge.
It was all Indiana needed to pull away.
"Well, we're not going to get shut out for the season," Crean said, drawing laughter. "We want to give them a plan and an opportunity to come out and understand what we need to do. We need to continue to play a certain way all the time."
INDIANA 83, NORTHWESTERN ST. 65
NORTHWESTERN ST. (0-1)
White 2-5 0-0 5, Petravicius 2-4 0-0 4, Mosley 0-0 2-4 2, M.McConathy 1-11 5-7 7, Jones 6-11 2-2 17, Knight 0-0 1-2 1, Brooks 0-4 0-2 0, L.McConathy 0-0 0-0 0, C. Clark 0-6 2-2 2, Watkins 0-4 0-0 0, Richardson 1-1 2-4 4, Hancock 3-13 0-0 8, Porterie 6-7 0-3 12, Hulbin 1-2 0-0 2, Ch.Clark 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 22-69 15-28 65.
Pritchard 5-8 3-5 13, Taber 2-6 0-0 4, Jones III 4-11 10-13 18, Williams 2-5 2-4 6, Dumes 6-10 5-6 21, White 0-0 0-0 0, Roth 2-5 4-4 9, Moore 2-3 2-3 6, Finkelmeier 1-3 0-0 2, Schultz 0-0 1-2 1, Barnett 0-0 0-0 0, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Story 1-4 1-2 3, Jobe 0-1 0-2 0. Totals 25-56 28-41 83.
Halftime--Indiana 38-29. 3-Point Goals--Northwestern St. 6-22 (Jones 3-6, Hancock 2-8, White 1-1, Watkins 0-1, C. Clark 0-1, M.McConathy 0-5), Indiana 5-16 (Dumes 4-8, Roth 1-4, Williams 0-1, Moore 0-1, Jones III 0-2). Fouled Out--Knight, Moore, White. Rebounds--Northwestern St. 52 (C. Clark 8), Indiana 41 (Pritchard 10). Assists--Northwestern St. 15 (L.McConathy 4), Indiana 17 (Jones III 5). Total Fouls--Northwestern St. 35, Indiana 25. A--13,446. . A--13,446.