Indiana falls to Kentucky, 102-90

ATLANTA — With his head firmly tilted toward the floor, Jordan Hulls shuffled all the way to the final seat on Indiana’s bench and waited to enter the post-game handshake line until there was no postponing it any further.

It was as if he just wasn’t ready for it to end. Really, none of the Hoosiers were.

But on Friday night — or really, early Saturday morning — Indiana’s magic season of rebirth came to a close against the team the Hoosiers had beaten in December to announce to the college basketball world their return to prominence. No. 4 seeded Indiana kept up with No. 1 Kentucky throughout the maniacally paced and brilliantly played NCAA South Regional semifinal at the Georgia Dome, but the Wildcats’ length, athleticism and ability to draw fouls was too much in the long run and they advanced to the Elite Eight with a 102-90 victory in front of a crowd of 24,731 that was largely partisan to their side.

Still, the campaign that ended in Atlanta is one that will long be remembered in Indiana lore. Just four years after the program was decimated and a year after their third-straight 20 loss season, the Hoosiers reached the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2002, won 27 games for the first time since the 1992-93 season, and defeated three AP Top 5 teams in the regular season for the first time in school history.

And the Hoosiers’ final game in this season they went down swinging as hard as they had all year.

“The Indiana men, and I mean quote me, the Indiana men, mighty men, as I’ve learned from my brother-in-laws and the way they describe their players, the Indiana mighty men , they gave it all,” an emotional coach Tom Crean said in his post-game press conference. “They left it all on that court. I’m proud of what they did.”

Said freshman forward Cody Zeller: “It’s tough to lose like this. We came in planning to win it. That’s why this one really hurts.”

The biggest reason they didn’t was fouls and what Kentucky did with them. Indiana out shot Kentucky, making 36 of 69 field goals (52.2 percent) compared to the Wildcats 31-for-64 performance (48.4 percent). However, Kentucky went to the line 37 times and hit 35 of those free throws.

Crean not so subtly hinted that he thought the free throw differential was a tad unfair.

“When they make 22 more free throws and take 20 more, I don’t know if I could’ve imagined that,” Crean said. “I wouldn’t have imagined a game like this having a free throw discrepancy of 20. It is what it is. We did a lot of good things. They shot 20 more free throws. That’s the game.”

How much of that was officiating and how much of that was simply Kentucky’s length and strength inside is difficult to tell, The Wildcats were often able to break the Hoosiers down off the dribble and draw fouls deep in the paint.

“They’re great drivers,” Zeller said. “They were attacking pretty hard throughout the game. Late in the game they had to foul just to try to close the margin a little bit. But they got to the bonus pretty early and that really helped them out pretty well.”

Both teams got five players in double figures. Freshman forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist led Kentucky with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Doron Lamb had 21 and senior forward Darius Miller had 19. Freshman point guard Marquis Teague had 14 points and seven assists while sophomore forward Terrence Jones had 12 points.

Indiana junior forward Christian Watford led all scorers with 27 points. Zeller had 20, sophomore guard Victor Oladipo had 15 points and three assists while junior guard Jordan Hulls had 12 points and nine assists. Sophomore Will Sheehey added 10 but he and Oladipo both fouled out and the Hoosiers had to deal with foul trouble for most of the evening.

In the first half, the Hoosiers were able to take advantage of Kentucky freshman forward Anthony Davis’s foul trouble and trailed just 50-47 in a shot-for-shot first half. However, the Wildcats took control early in the second half thanks in large part to two 3-pointers by Miller that gave Kentucky an eight-point lead. The Hoosiers kept rallying back and cut the deficit to four, but the Wildcats were always able to keep them at an arm’s length.

“We made a couple of personnel mistakes,” Crean said. “… There were a couple of times that they got to their strengths. Jones got to his strengths, Miller got to his strengths . We broke down a little bit. But you know, we were able to come back and get some of that, but they got momentum and we were always playing uphill from that point on. We were hanging right there. We had some guys running on fumes. I said to John (Calipari), make sure you’ve got enough energy to win this game. That game took a lot out of everybody, no question about it.”

The Hoosiers cut the deficit to 82-77 with 5:14 left and 86-79 with 3:24 to go, but Kentucky made all 16 free throws they made from that point forward. That caused Indiana’s season to end before the Hoosiers wanted to, but not before this team brought the program back.

AUDIO: Tom Crean, Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller

25 comments

  1. IU in the Final Four next year. Bank on it. These guys can ball. I kept laughing out loud at that stupid stat CBS kept showing about IU giving up the most points it ever had in a tournament game. I hardly think IU (and IU fans) would have given a sh*t about giving up 102 points if they would have scored 103. Such a stupid stat. I also hope this game shut the stupid f*cking critics up. IU was always close, had a chance to win, and UK never pulled away. Only with amazing FT shooting were they able to hold the Hoosiers off. Christian Watford- what a baller. Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls, Will Sheehey…damn, we are going to be GOOD next year. Looking forward to it!

  2. I agree “psych”. Don’t despair, I’ve seen three of the five incoming recruits play, and have seen Yogi play twice. We are in for a treat, think of Isaih Thomas with more on the floor leadership. One word about te officiating, there were so many bad and no calls I kept looking for Ted Valentine. And CBS, Clark Kellogg was terrible last night, hire Dan Dakich.

  3. Actually the officiating was very good last night. I know it didn’t go your the way you wanted, but if indiana wasn’t so slow on defense there would not have been so many fouls called.

  4. Good officiating if you are a pUKe fan. 20 more opportunities is a gift. Another game of 8 on 5.

  5. @ Pysch: Yea, afterwards everyone kept talking about Kentucky like they blew out IU. The highlights on ESPN were a joke…they never showed anything that IU did. They showed Davis blocking Zeller once like he dominated the matchup when Zeller outplayed Davis all game.

    Anyways, IU played exceptionally well on offense, I think the key to next year is locking down on defense a little better. When our offense is explosive like it was all game against Kentucky, locking down on defense allows you to win by double digits easily.

    Great year, fun team to watch. Hopefully, Watford stays and produces those kinds of numbers all year next year. Add our top five recuiting class = top five preseason ranking next year and favorite to win the Big Ten.

  6. All in all, KY had more athletes on the floor last night. Too bad college basketball is supposed to be played by “student athletes.”

    If college basketball is ever returned to a game played by student athletes, or if the NBA ever goes back to drafting players right out of High School, KY BB is going to be in a real bind.

    But hey, at least Calipari has not, at least to our knowledge, had sex with the wife of one of his assistant coaches on the table of a restaurant.

  7. CW won’t turn pro, not a 1st or 2nd round player yet. At the 4:15 mark in the video watch the guy in the back eat a “snack”. Good job IU.

  8. Don’t think CW will turn pro this year. As he demonstrated last night, he has the talent, but his performance this year was too inconsistent to make him a first round draft pick. And if you’re not going to be a first round pick, he’d be better off, in the long run, getting his degree and then trying to make the NBA. Who’s to say what CW’s personal or family financial situation is, but I believe it would be a mistake for him to try to go pro this year.

    Last night he played like an NBA All Star and was clearly the best player on the floor, but that was not the case throughout some of the games this season. For a while this season, i was questioning whether he was fully healthy. Maybe I’m naive, but I think he could use another year to demonstrate more consistent play and then solidify his status as a first round pick.

    Regardless of what CW does, IU will be loaded with a lot more athletic talent next year. If they can play as a team like this year’s squad, and have half the heart that this team had, IU BB will be in great shape.

  9. There’s no rule that says you have to pick the “best” Rolling Stones song. But for what it’s worth, here’s my current favorite. It’s the grinding Mick Taylor rhythm part that really sells me on the song – especially when the horn section comes in and doubles up on the part.

  10. Podunker,
    I’m not sure what he’s going to do either, but in terms of the personal and family end of it, both of his parents are employed. His mom works in a high school and his dad is a county sheriff. So he’s essentially middle class. Make of that what you will.
    As for the educational end of it, I think he’s pretty close to his degree. He may or may not be graduating in May. i’d have to check that. But he’s in an academic situation that could allow him to make the leap and finish his degree within a summer or two.
    My guess? I’d say he tests the waters but doesn’t sign an agent and eventually decides to return. I don’t see any reason that he can’t play in the NBA, but there are a lot of guys that could play who never get a shot because it’s a two-round draft and there simply aren’t a lot of roster spots in the NBA. Consistency will certainly be a knock against him, but obviously he played like a pro throughout the tournament.

  11. I am certainly not convinced that Wat will ever get to a level where he’s draftable, but one thing is certain… This year’s draft is considered very good and very deep. He wouldn’t sniff the first round this year, and would probably be very lucky to sneak into the second. I guess he could have a great workout somewhere and have a team be intrigued, but I doubt it. Chad Ford currently as him ranked as the 126th best NBA prospect, and that is based on his inside information from NBA execs, not his own opinion. That’s good for IU and us fans because he should be very valuable next year.

    Here are guys that will DEFINITELY go ahead of Watford: Davis, Kidd-Gilchrist, P Jones, T Zeller, Robinson, Beal, Drummond, Lamb, Barnes, Sullinger, Henson, Rivers, T Jones, Green, Lillard, Wroten… I’m getting bored. There’s too many to name. Plus about 5 euros, and 3 guys from small schools that no ones ever heard of, oh and a couple of bigs who don’t deserve it, but will get drafted because you can’t teach size…

    The fact remains that he didn’t show anything new to anyone with his play recently. He was simply more consistent and his shot was falling. Watford is a below average athlete for his size at this level, much less the NBA. He can get away with some stuff here because of his tweener game and experience. Unless he magically adds some explosiveness and quickness next year he is destined for a nice salary and career overseas.

    But hey as a Hoosier fan I could care less about his pro career right now. I’m excited about what he can contribute next year and what example he can set for the Movement.

  12. If Watford stays, then someone has to leave. How does that work? Is there a non senior scholarship player who is unhappy and wanting to transfer?

    I would prefer to lose Watford because he choose the NBA than see someone else “nudged” off the team against their own wishes. These guys have worked hard and it just sucks if one of them gets treated that way.

  13. Podunker…we exaggerate about our rivals…it was UNDER the table. The man had some discretion!

  14. I can not think of one thing an NBA player does that Watford has not done. I too would love for him to stay, it would make IU an incredibly talented and deep team and a candidate to get very far next year. But let’s not rationalize our argument to get CW to stay. He has been a real leader on this team, he’s a solid rebounder, a good offensive floor player, an excellent defender and has consistently shown outstanding range. A year of maturity and leadership of a national contender certainly would add to the many facets that would make him a great draft pick bu the desire to keep him (which I certainly share) should not have us reaching for criticism of what he has done already. Watford is a major reason we became the talk of college basketball all year long.

    (Anthony Davis, the advertised to be #1 pick of the NBA has shown better than Watford in games against each other how?)

    One more point. It is not only the incoming freshman class that we should consider when celebrating our prospects for 2012-2013, but the return of Maurice Creek who will be one of the top players in the country by the time the next NCAA tournament rolls around. Remember his performance against Kentucky as a freshman and include it in yesterday’s game…it easily made a 15 point difference in the game and a much bigger planning headache for Coach Calipari. Verdell too, had he played would have had a strong impact.

    Finally, referees impact on outcome…some (as with every game of basketball) but not critical. I didn’t see one dunk or three-pointer by a referee. The one thing I would want to see changed in Hoosier basketball by next year is the propensity (mostly by Hoosier fans) to blame the referees for outright anti-IU bias in their calls. That is delusional and it reflects on the entire Hoosier Nation. Random mistakes, yes. Some gross errors in calls, yes. Questionable judgment, yes. Deliberate bias or absence of integrity…absolutely irrational bordering on crazy.

  15. Tsao – do you pay any attn to the NBA or the draft? College performance has very little to do with draft status or NBA success. (Davis’s performance last night has nothing to do with nothing. He has elite athleticism for his size and an elite skill – shot-blocking – so there is automatically a spot for him.)

    Their are different defensive rules that create the necessity for more athleticism.

    For the most part the game is played either above the rim, or with elite quickness. There are a few players who contribute that aren’t extremely quick or have elite hops, but those players are space-eaters and extremely powerful (Craig Smith, Dajaun Blair types). Watford has none of those athletic qualities, and it isn’t like he has an elite skill to make up for it (Steve Novak). He’s a capable shooter, but not elite. He’s a capable passer, but nothing special. He’s a capable ball-handler, but would struggle to break down any NBA defender. He’s a capable rebounder, but would get eaten alive by the size, quickness and/or power of the guys at the next level.

    There’s a reason why he was only B1G honorable mention.

    He has below average lateral quickness, he has below average hops. He had something like 4 dunks all year, including last night’s. That’s because he isn’t fast enough to get out and run to get easy opportunities in transition, or quick enough to blow past guys and get to the rim, or jump high enough to go over guys when he’s challenged at the basket.

    Tsao, you said something about him being an excellent defender. I bet every NBA GM would snicker if they saw that comment. He doesn’t have the strength, length or ups to defend an NBA 4-man in the post, and he doesn’t have even close to the quickness he needs to defend an NBA wing. It would literally be embarrassing very time down the court.

    I am happy to have Watford on our team. I think he is a good college player and a good Hoosier. I don’t see the need to make him into a pro. Anyone who says he is is simply too close to the situation, doesn’t pay attention to the NBA or the draft, or just can’t be objective to save their life.

    The only people who think Watford has NBA potential are the Watford cousins and a few Hoosier fans. No one who does this stuff for a living is even discussing him, much less less anointing him.

    Sorry guys. Be happy and satisfied that he’s good for our team. And if you want, I’ll bet you pink slips that he isn’t on an NBA roster next year.

    Ok. Pile on me again Harvard. call me a hater. Tell me about heart and grit and gumption or something. After you’ve spent yourself go find one draft service that has him listed as a potential pick. Remember there’s only 450 roster spots and 360 eligible to play in the entire league. There are maybe about 50 spots open for competition each year, and 30 of those are guaranteed to first round picks… Hey, good luck, but the stars just don’t seem to be aligned.

  16. I’ve been an IU basketball nut (and two time graduate of IU) for 58 years. I am VERY, VERY proud of this team and coaches, Not only did you make us competitive and winners again, but you did it with class, integrity and style. Congratulations to each of you for your individual and team accomplishments. By my definition of “team” you are one of the best in the nation AND in IU’s magnificent basketball history. Keep it up! It’s wonderful to be a proud Hoosier again!

  17. Wasn’t that the Kentucky Colonels Watford scored 27 points against? Huh, I thought Friday night was Christian’s NBA debut.

    Christian came up big and that’s one thing the “doubters” that permeated this place can never take away from him. There was even a very famous journalist that described him as “pathetic” a few weeks back…I think it was Seth Davis. Watford was just pathetically versatile enough against a team with 7 NBA players to keep us from losing by 50 points. Zeller and Oladipo only played 47 minutes combined and somehow 5 NBA players couldn’t play strong enough defense to stop Watford from nearly getting 1/3 our total points.

    Did Artis Gilmore cut his [b]’fro[/b]?

  18. Harvard, please don’t make me list the 1000’s of good college players that have had nice college careers and excellent games against loaded college teams that never got a sniff of the nba.

    Seriously, it would take 3 weeks of non-stop typing.

  19. I think Christian has a good shot at getting drafted. His only weakness imo is his quickness/defensive ability at the NBA level. I hope he chooses to stay just because he’s awesome!! We’ll be deep next year and I hope our graduating seniors and past players make it to the games.

  20. I have no doubt that CW could get drafted, but would it be in the first round? And do you want to delay/forfeit your degree to become a second round draft pick? Very few second rounders make NBA rosters.

    He should declare for the draft, but not get an agent. Test the waters and then make an informed choice.

  21. I am very proud of this IU team and how they competed all year. They played the way we want to see the team play, had a terrific year against a very difficult slate of games, played to their seed in the tournament and gave Kentucky what may be their most competitive game of the tournament. And they got IU back on the scene and at a point where expectations are again high. For all of those things I’m both proud and thankful. Even a couple of UK fans I work with complimented me today on how well and competitively IU played them.

    For the seniors–thank you for sticking it out and finally seeing some handsome return on your investment this year.

    For everyone else–you’ll see excitement and support such as you’ve never seen before when the 2012-13 season rolls around. We’re with you all the way.

    Great job Hoosiers!!!

  22. Bloggers you might as well give up ,Geoff has all the an swers. we have all witnessed the second coming of Christ, we now call him Geoff

  23. MMOGSTOP.com is the leading provider of WoWGold, FFXI Gil, RS Gold,EverQuest Platinum, and Warhammer online gold.MMOG STOP delivers fast, safe and always guaranteed.

Comments are closed.