BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell knew what the Hoosiers needed Sunday evening.
They had to crank up the pace, turn up the pressure and start putting some distance between themselves and Stony Brook.
The point guard took care of all three in the second half. He finished with 24 points, five rebounds and six assists and teammate Noah Vonleh became the first Indiana player to post four straight double-doubles since 2007-08 to lead the Hoosiers to a 90-74 victory.
"He is continually finding what the game is giving teammates and what the game is giving him, and he's playing a high level of defense," coach Tom Crean said. "He's figuring out how to win every possession."
Indiana needed Ferrell, the only returning starter from last season's team, to become a big-time leader this season and over the past week, he's fit the role perfectly.
Ferrell was one of the catalysts in Tuesday's one-point victory over LIU-Brooklyn, then scored a career-high 26 points in a rout of Samford on Friday and followed that Sunday with perhaps an even more impressive all-around game — hitting the 20-point mark for just the second time in his career and in back-to-back games.
Vonleh had 18 points and 15 rebounds, closing on D.J. White, who had five straight double-doubles. Crean contended it was actually a triple double since the coaching staff credited the star freshman with 15 deflections. Evan Gordon came off the bench to score 12 points and Jeremy Hollowell added 10 points and three blocks as the Hoosiers improved to 4-0 for the fourth consecutive season.
Indiana could have made this one a whole lot easier — by shooting better from the free-throw line, where they were 30 of 49.
But they still did enough.
"The ball had to move today, the bodies had to move. We needed to get the ball back in Yogi's hands or get it inside," Crean said. "It wasn't a perfect game by any stretch, not even close. But what we did is we figured out that the intensity and the energy level cannot wane."
Ferrell made sure the intensity was no problem against a team that had won three of the last four regular-season conference crowns in America East.
Carson Puriefoy finished with 22 points to lead the Seawolves (3-1), who were hoping to complete the first 4-0 start in the school's Division I history. Jameel Warney added 19 points and seven rebounds and Eric McAlister had 11 points. Leading scorer Anthony Jackson finished with nine points, 12 below his season average.
But Stony Brook also committed 31 fouls — not the blueprint for beating its first power-conference school since an upset of Penn State on Nov. 17, 2006.
"Our key to the whole game was not to lose the game at the foul line and we just continued to foul," Stony Brook coach Steve Pikiell said. "You can't defend the foul line. I think we're a better basketball team than we showed tonight, but give them credit. They did a great job defending us and making our lives very difficult with their length."
Indiana had other problems.
Sunday's crowd was smaller than usual largely because of severe weather around the state and a tornado warning in the area that expired just as the game began, and each time the boisterous fans got loud, Stony Brook found a way to silence the fans.
In the first half, the Seawolves trimmed a 17-10 deficit to 19-16 and a 31-21 deficit to 35-33. Indiana finished the half on a 6-2 run to make it 41-35, and then Ferrell and Vonleh seized control in the second half. They fueled a 12-6 run that gave Indiana a 53-41 lead with 15:23 to go.
"Coach has been telling me to not rush anything really, to pick and choose my spots. Don't force shots," Ferrell said. "He tells me that I don't have anything to prove, just go out there and play my game."
This time, the Hoosiers followed Ferrell's cue.
They didn't let Stony Brook get closer than 10 the rest of the game and closed it out with a late scoring flurry that extended the lead to 16 with 5:36 left.
"There are going to be nights that he (Ferrell) is not going to make shots, that he's not going to get a lot of shots. He's got to have the same disposition," Crean said. "We're moving him around a lot. He's in a lot of different positions. And he's playing defense at an extremely high level."
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