BLOOMINGTON – When Nic Moore’s name was announced during starting lineups Thursday night at Assembly Hall, it was a moment that many had been waiting to come for quite a while. Moore, a 2011 graduate of Warsaw, was back on the court in his home state and that just felt right.
Though Moore’s return to the Hoosier state was sweet, the outcome on the scoreboard was bitter for the former Tiger. Moore and the No. 22 ranked Southern Methodist Mustangs were outplayed and outscored by the Indiana Hoosiers, 74-68.
Of course Moore was not the only player on the floor Thursday night to play his prep career in Indiana and other native Hoosiers ended up playing big roles in the outcome of the contest.
Justin Martin (Indianapolis) started alongside Moore for SMU and would hit a big three in the second half, but the senior would finish with just seven total points.
Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell (Indianapolis) started at point guard for the Hoosiers and was on Moore all night. Moore versus Ferrell certainly looked like a good match up on paper but it was even better in person. The two point guards both hit three shots from behind the arc, each pulled down five rebounds and both would finish with 13 points a piece.
One area where Ferrell had an advantage over Moore was in steals. Ferrell had two while the Hoosiers had six. SMU totaled one steal as a team. Not getting steals is one thing, but giving the opponent extra possessions is a cardinal sin in any sport. The Mustangs turned the ball over 19 times Thursday night. The Hoosiers turned those mistakes into 12 points. SMU scored just two points off of seven Indiana turnovers.
Another area where Indiana made a difference was from behind the arc. Indiana hit 12 threes as a team, the most since the 2012-13 season for the Hoosiers. Another native Hoosier led the way in three-point shooting for Indiana.
Freshman James Blackmon Jr. (Ft. Wayne) led all scorers with 26 points thanks, in part, to his five threes. Blackmon Jr. was also fouled on a three-point attempt and made all three ensuing free throw attempts.
The loss for SMU is its second of the season as the Mustangs now sit at 1-2. Moore certainly has a bad taste in his mouth from the outcome of this game, but to be able to play back home again was something that meant a lot to the Winona Lake native.
“It means the world to me,” Moore stated. “The last three years I haven’t been back home to play. To come back to my home state and have support, even though I don’t play for IU, really means a lot to me.”
The only thing that topped the sites on the court for Moore was the site of his mother, Karla, in the stands.
“To see my mom’s face,” Moore began, then paused to find the right words. “That’s priceless. I don’t know what else to even say about that.”
Thursday’s game was the first Moore had played in his home state since February 14, 2012 at Indiana State when he was a member of the Illinois State team. Moore transferred to SMU the following season. Moore and the Mustangs do not have any scheduled games back in the Hoosier state for this season but SMU will play in Ann Arbor, Michigan against the Michigan Wolverines on December 20.
SMU will host Eastern Washington this Saturday while Indiana (3-0) will host Lamar, also on Saturday.