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Indiana University

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vs. Syracuse
What: NCAA tournament, Sweet 16
Where: Washington, D.C.
When: 9:45 p.m. Thursday
Radio: 1250 AM, 92.7 FM
Associated Press
Indiana’s Jordan Hulls is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.9 points. He is shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 46 percent on three-pointers.

IU’s Hulls enjoying ride

Senior guard has seen program at its worst, best

Jordan Hulls has experienced the lows and highs of college basketball in his four years at Indiana.

The 6-foot senior guard joined the Hoosiers after they went 6-25 in coach Tom Crean’s first season.

In Hulls’ first two seasons, Indiana was digging its way out of NCAA sanctions and the Hoosiers went 22-41 and won seven Big Ten games.

In the last two seasons, the Hoosiers have gone 56-18 and have reached the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. IU also spent 10 weeks as the No. 1 team in The Associated Press Top 25 poll this year, won its first outright Big Ten regular-season title since 1993 and is a top seed in the NCAA tournament for the third time in program history.

Indiana (29-6) also have a chance to win 30 games for the fifth time in school history if it defeats No. 4 seed Syracuse (28-9) on Thursday in the East Regional semifinals in Washington, D.C.

“It’s definitely a lot different than it used to be,” Hulls said.

“We’ve come a long way, the guys that have been here for a while, from having losing seasons to having winning seasons.”

Hulls’ contributions to Indiana’s winning ways was on display when he wasn’t on the court in Sunday’s 58-52 win over No. 9 seed Temple in the third round of the NCAA tournament at University of Dayton Arena.

After colliding with an Owls player with 12:25 left in the first half, Hulls went to the bench with a right shoulder injury. He briefly returned but had to go back to the locker room with 6:58 left in the half. With Hulls out and Cody Zeller on the bench with two fouls, the Hoosiers struggled for the rest of the half and trailed 29-26 at halftime.

Hulls returned for the second half wearing a shoulder harness and a bandage on his right shoulder. He hit a three-pointer with 8:49 to play to cut Temple’s lead to 41-40, dived over the Owls’ T.J. DiLeo to force a jump ball and hit a jumper to reduce IU’s deficit to 52-50 with 2:55 to play.

Hulls said his shoulder felt fine in the second half.

“They rely heavily on Jordan,” IU associate head coach Tim Buckley. “They have great respect for him. They know how hard he works, and what he means to this basketball team.”

Hulls, a Bloomington South product who joined Indiana at the same time as Christian Watford, Maurice Creek and Derek Elston, has been a big part of restoring the Hoosiers’ winning tradition.

“They’ve established a legacy, there’s no question about that,” Crean said of the four seniors. “For (Hulls) to have had the career that he’s had and having at Indiana, for him to do the things that he’s done, for him to continue to grow and get better, for him to continue to be the teammate that he has, when he’s had issues this year, it’s because he’s pressed too hard, because he wants it too much because almost sometimes he’s trying too hard, that’s because he wants to win so bad, and that’s because he wants his teammates to be successful.”

Hulls is fourth on the team in scoring, averaging 9.9 points, and is second on the team in assists, with three per game. He is shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 46 percent on three-pointers.

He also became the program’s leader in games played at 134 with Sunday’s win over Temple. He passed Randy Wittman’s and Jeff Newton’s record of 133.

“Growing up in Bloomington and being able to play for my hometown university has been pretty special for me,” Hulls said. “but I’m more focused on getting the win and what we can do in order to do that.”