Watford, Indiana stun No. 1 Kentucky with last-second 3-pointer

Within seconds of his last-second 3-pointer’s contact with the net, Christian Watford was swimming in an ocean of catharsis.

The Indiana junior forward’s buzzer beater gave the Hoosiers a 73-72 win over No. 1 Kentucky, bringing enough of the 17,472 fans that packed Assembly Hall on Saturday on to Branch McCracken Court fill it from end to end. They stayed on the floor for more than 10 minutes dancing singing and generally bathing in the mayhem as Watford, senior guard Verdell Jones and others took it all in while standing on the scorers’ table.

“I haven’t felt anything like that,” Watford said. “It’s probably the most memorable moment of my life. It’s the biggest shot definitely of my career.”

It was the biggest and last of several big ones by Watford in the game. He finished with 20 points, knocking down four of the six 3-pointers he attempted. He also held Kentucky sophomore forward Terrence Jones, a preseason All-American, to just four points and three field goal attempts. 

The Hoosiers went toe-to-toe with Kentucky throughout the game and took a 10-point lead on three different occasions early in the second half. However, the Wildcats rallied all the way tack to take the lead again 69-68 with two minutes to go.

Watford hit a layup to give the Hoosiers a 70-69 advantage with 1:03 to go, but Kentucky’s Marquis Teague scored to make it 71-70 with 49 seconds left. The Hoosiers had the ball with 14 seconds to go and a chance to take the lead back, but sophomore guard Victor Oladipo lost the ball trying to drive in from the right wing and Kentucky sophomore guard Doron Lamb was fouled with five seconds left.

Lamb only made one of two free throws, however, and the Hoosiers put the ball in senior guard Verdell Jones’s hands on the last play. He drove it the length of the court looking for a lane, but then kicked it back out to Watford for the game-winning three.

“We drew up a play, coach called a timeout, called “Cowboy”  for me to get the ball,” Jones said. “We knew they were probably going to foul, but we just wanted to make a play. We had Jordy out there and Victor and we were trying to get a basket. The plan was to get a basket and get a two and go to overtime. Big time players make big-time plays and C-Wat did. When I got the ball I knew he was going to be sprinting down because he was taking the ball out. He was sprinting behind and he was trailing me. I just drove it and he was like, ‘V, V.’ I just turned around and passed it to him and the rest was history.”

Oladipo finished with 13 points. Freshman forward Cody Zeller and junior guard Jordan Hulls scored 11 each. Sophomore forward Will Sheehey had 10 and Jones had eight and three assists, including the game-winner.

It was Indiana’s first win over the No. 1 ranked team since the Hoosiers beat Duke in the 2002 NCAA Tournament. It’s the first win over the No. 1 ranked team since the Hoosiers beat Michigan State in 2001 on Kirk Haston’s last-second jumper.

“This is one of the most shared moments that I’ve ever been a part of,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “Maybe the most shared moment, where you want to share it with everybody that’s been a part of this program. … This is the epitome of what Hoosier Nation is all about.”

AUDIO: Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo

AUDIO: Verdell Jones, Will Sheehey

AUDIO: Cody Zeller

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 2


  1. “Maybe the most shared moment, where you want to share it with everybody that’s been a part of this program. … This is the epitome of what Hoosier Nation is all about.”

    Well said coach. Great win. Congratulations, you and your team certainly deserve it.

  2. Great game!!! The team showed a toughness tonight that has been missing for the last few seasons, which will be key for playing through the B10 schedule.

  3. A few games ago we were talking about how good the team could be and it was too bad that CWat was lost out there. Today he shut down an All America while being an offensive monster. Who knows how good these guys can be?

  4. I will be sleeping well tonight….that is, if I ever can stop replaying the last shot in my head and fall asleep…

    Amazing stuff. In the epic words of Dustin Dopirak, “Wow….just…wow.”

  5. Chet – it would take a monumental melt down for us to miss the tournament now. It’s hard to imagine us not winning 20 games, including wins @ NCST, vs #1 Kentucky (who will still probably be a #1 seed when it’s all said and done), and against Butler (who will probably win 20+ games and make a run at another Horizon League championship, once they mesh a little more).

    Even if we lose to ND, we’ll get a couple quality wins along the way in the B1G.

    Since HforH likes predictions so much, what is your prediction for our NCAA seed? (I’ll go with a #5) How about our seed in the B1G tourney? (I’ll say #4) And what about where we end up in the coaches poll on Monday? (I say #18)

  6. Not this “we.”

    Harvard for Hillbillies

    Tuesday, November 29, 2011 – 4:28 PM EST

    I haven’t abandoned the Watford ship. I don’t think this team is nearly as strong without him. Many of you are selling him out way too early. The fact he can drain shots from the perimeter, and pull big men to the outside, makes Cody a far more difficult match-up than when the inside is clogged. Watford has inconsistent results in the paint…he’s a bit rough around the edges in the bump-and-grind of inside play, but I don’t think he lacks heart and effort. He’s also a huge plus at the stripe. His competence at the free throw line can pay huge dividends when the over-focus on Zeller will cause out of position defenders to foul as a result of getting back to their primary assignment late.

    Where’s Clarion? Where’s that ship that’s sailing with Watford not aboard?

  7. I just watched the postgame presser with Jordy, CWat, and Vic. Earlier, I saw the presser after the truly horrifying Xavier/Cincy game.
    First, kudos to the Cincy coach who said that he wasn’t sure would he would still have on his team come Monday.
    The Xavier’s post game interviews were disgusting. After one of the worst episodes in college sports, the Xavier players were unapologetic, saying, “We’re gangsta”. They can think about that while they watch the games on TV waiting out their suspension.
    How did their coach let those clowns do the presser? He know his guys. Couldn’t he have picked players that weren’t idiots and wouldn’t sound like thugs to do the postgame?

    Meanwhile the Hoosier players at their presser are saying, “My Mom is everything to me” and “thanks to the great Hoosier fans” and other ridiculously nice comments.

    Thanks Vic, CWat, and Jordan. We appreciate you, too.

  8. HforH, be careful. I once strained a shoulder patting myself on the back.

    You were right, though. I always had hope, too. I always liked the person.

    I’m not on the Verdell train, yet. I always kinda hope the positive outweighs the negative. I don’t expect to have a postgame comment like, “Wow, Verdell really saved us tonight.”

    He’s a talented player but I’d be more comfortable with the ball in someone else’s hands.

  9. Geoff-

    A bit far ahead for seeding details and such. I’ll sleep on it and get back to you. I’d gladly go back to my predictions after week one of the exhibition season.

    1. A trip to the Big Dance.

    2. A 4th or 5th place in the conference standings

    3. 22 wins(includes Big 10 tournament win/s) before NCAA play

    4. A top-20 by mid December

    5. I believe that I also said it was highly likely we’d be looking at only 1 loss going into the Big 10 season.

    Final Thoughts: You were right about Jordy..As much as I love Hulls, he looked a step slow against Teague(Although Teague may be a step faster going to the hoop than anyone in college)..It almost bit us in the butt. We had a lot of “lady luck” to come away with the win against Kentucky tonight…A ton of heart, but some luck too. Hulls’ speed will definitely be the biggest mountain for him to climb to play at the next level. The marksmanship and poise will never be the issue.

    Great team victory. Hard to find any criticism for how Crean approached the game and coached the game.

    Go Hoosiers!!

  10. IM so happy!!! Im deep in sec country tonight around a bunch of tennessee fans who said no way IU can win. At half time they were saying (is IU this good or out of their heads) I can finally talk some trash to these UK morons who are saying they got some bad calls!! Did they shoot more free throws? Bad calls?! Weak!!

  11. Chet-

    I think I threw my shoulder out. I should be more careful..Seven shoulder separations is enough. I’m just having some lighthearted fun with Clarion. I used to make a habit of being way too hard on VJ. It’s a blog. One week were geniuses. Next week were geniuses.

    The Big 10 season will be a war. This was a great win, but we have to keep the foot on the gas. Things won’t get any easier come January.

  12. But what of Watford’s horrible shooting form, coachv? How does he have time to get that thing off? And what possesses it to find nothing but net? It’s from the Middle Ages! It’s like watching Edward Longshanks’ trebuchets slinging game-winning boulders during the siege of Stirling Castle(Kentucky being Stirling Castle, I guess).

  13. redneck

    did u not see watford’s super slow, hinged elbow release swatted into next tuesday earlier in the game?

  14. We tried hard to give it away. We should have kept feeding Zeller in the post and should have put Oladipo on Teague, UK spread the floor and were killing us with drives to the hoop. We should have won by double-digits. Anyone see the pick that Zeller set in the backcourt to free Jones on the final play? What an unselfish and smart player that kid is. Some of those upperclassmen, especially VJIII could learn a lot from him. And why was Moore in there and not Abell? Is Elsten hurt? Great win, but we need to focus now on the Big Ten not tear up property on/near Kirkwood & Dunn.

  15. “People always asked me, why did I go so far away, to farm country,” said Oladipo, who finished with 13 points and seven rebounds. “I tell them, first of all, it’s not farm country. But I tell them that it’s Indiana, and it’s the truth. This is Indiana. I’m speechless. It was so loud, my head still hurts. I need some ibuprofen.”
    -Victor Oladipo

  16. “This Is Indiana”…..what I really liked is that Coach Crean kind of stayed out of the way as much as he could and let the kid’s get all the attention..that say’s alot about him right there.Great win and the hall…well was THE HALL.

  17. Calipari – “they did it without Terrence Jones who absolutely gave us a zero today.”

    How’s that bus on your head feel.

    Doron Lamb – “they made a lucky shot.”

    Yes, a wide open three by one of your best shooters is truly lucky.

  18. Wasn’t Lamb the kid that left the door open when he missed the FT? What was UK from the line?

  19. We saw both ends of the spectrum of college basketball yesterday. That awful display at the Xavier/Cincy game and the equally awful postgame comments by the Xavier players followed by the hard fought, though respectful, play of the ‘Cats and Hoosiers. We were then treated to the heartwarming comments of the Indiana players afterward. IMHO, CTC is building a team the right way with the right people.

    I checked my Facebook account this morning and there were still lots of posts from the Crean haters basically saying if this group of guys had just wandered in from the street They would have beaten Kentucky by 30.


  20. Chet- There are “Fire Coach K” websites, ‘Fire Andy Reid” websites, “Fire Bill Belichick,” “Fire Bill Self” websites, and so on and so on. Get my drift?

    The average sports fan is not a rational creature. Give them a little anonymity on the internet and they turn utterly primal (although somehow I think that even monkeys and dogs are more compassionate and insightful than your average anonymous blogger). Pay them no attention – they are surely an even smaller minority after last night.

  21. Wow! That was great! The best part is that there is plenty to improve on from this game. They beat #1 Kentucky and there is plenty to improve upon.

    It sure feels good that IU basketball is back.

  22. Got to agree with Chet on the wide spectrum of the day.

    CZ’s screen was the fuel for the “Jones to Wat play”. Got to be the best decision VJ has ever made on the BB court and Watford had his best game ever. They were difference makers. It appears nobody will be able to shut down VO.

    After this type of W and whom it was against, how vulnerable are we for ND? Maybe why Crean’s expression was so sterile immediately after the game.

  23. Chet, there will always be morons posting those types of comments. To try to deprive Crean and his team from the credit and praise they earned yesterday is the sign of a true loser, a person who is so knotted up will amnity that it lowers their IQ and renders them incapable of rational thought. You have to feel sorry for them after a while.

    No one is saying that yesterday’s Kentucky team was the greatest team in the history of the NCAA, but they are a very well coached and talented team and were ranked #1 after beating UNC. There are not too many, if any, teams in the country that could have defeated them yesterday.

  24. I am retired and living in Buenos Aires…I with two friends saw the game at a sports bar late last night. When the 3 pointer hit nothing but NET…We jumped up and down as if we were at the game…..The local residents called Portenos…thought the three of us were certifiable. After we calmed down, I teared up as did my other two friends. As IU fans for over 40 years…this was truly an amazing yet emotional thing we witnessed. As part of the Hoosier faithful..aptly called Hoosier Nation now…you learn over the years to accept the good and bad with your beloved Hoosiers….And for the past several years the news shall we say…has been less than good….What a wonderful win this was…and to beat Kentucky……makes it all the sweeter to Hoosier fans world wide….

  25. Amazing win for IU! The past few years during close games I always had a sinking feeling that IU would end up choking and blow the game, e.g. last year’s game at MSU. However, this year my gut told me (after Lamb missed the first free throw) that IU was going to pull out the ‘W’ – some way, some how. Hallelujah!

  26. Only one thing to say on this fine Monday morning.
    WE’RE BACK!!!!

    ok maybe two things to say: GO HOOSIERS!!

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