Yogi Ferrell (20 points) and Will Sheehey (19) led Indiana to an upset win over Ohio State Sunday.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – The obituary for this Indiana University basketball team was filed and accepted 15 days ago.
This was the cause of death: Blowing a 13-point lead against Minnesota. Looking lost inbounding the basketball while getting beat at home by Penn State. Getting run out of Mackey Arena by lowly Purdue.
The Hoosiers were closer to the absolute bottom of the Big Ten than they were to being a team that people would even mention as an NCAA Tournament possibility. The 10-count was well past nine and moving quickly toward an official K.O.
Now it's time to wait til next week on that wait til next year talk. Three days after Tom Crean's team handled No. 20 Iowa, the Hoosiers backed up that performance by dispatching No. 22 Ohio State, 72-64, in Assembly Hall Sunday.
What's going on here? Two weeks after the Hoosiers were only inches ahead of Penn State, they're 17-12 and have moved past Minnesota into seventh place in the Big Ten.
Two weeks ago the world was howling at Crean. Now it's Crean's turn to talk back. Why have the Hoosiers won three of four? Apparently he won't be reading this story. When it comes to social media or public discussion of his team, he's inching toward Rick Pitino's view of that world. But this is what he said.
"Stay positive," Crean said. "I think you keep the negativity out of your world. I cut back my reading. I never read my Twitter timeline any more. Ever. I don't care. It doesn't have anything to do with what we're doing. I think you try to get that across to your team.
"I knew we were improving. It's not how you succeed in life (reading social media) anyway. I've tried to get our guys to understand that. I think they knew they were getting better.
"I think the bottom line for these guys is they know we're good enough to compete with any team in this league. When we play smart and tough and thoroughly play the right way, we can beat any team in this league. That's where we've got to be."
This is where the Hoosiers are now. That's one (Hawkeyes), two (Buckeyes), three (Michigan), four (Wisconsin) Top 25 teams that Indiana has beaten – and this time they delivered without center Noah Vonleh, their freshman center and sole consistent inside force.
Inflammation in Vonleh's left foot left him on the bench for 40 minutes. But his gray walking boot was put to a serious test because for most of the afternoon Vonleh was jumping from his chair.
He was howling for Yogi Ferrell (20 points) and Will Sheehey (19), the Hoosiers' leaders. Vonleh especially enjoyed the work of one of his inside replacements -- Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who delivered an essential eight points, five rebounds and three blocks. Twice in the second half, Mosquera-Perea actually looked more dynamic running the pick and roll than Vonleh.
Sheehey has been terrific the last two weeks. He made a dagger three-pointer to seal a victory at Northwestern. He hung a career-high 30 points on Iowa. And then he backed it up with 19 points against the Buckeyes.
"He's a very good player," Crean said. "Some people forgot about that. I don't care if people forgot about it. I care when he forgets it."
Ferrell remains Indiana's most consistent player. He made three three-point shots and led the Hoosiers with four assists. He went sneaker-to-sneaker with Ohio State senior Aaron Craft – and won. Ferrell looked like what he is -- a first-team point guard in the Big Ten.
Get this: Ohio State did not make a three-point shot – for the first time since Jan. 10, 2004. The Buckeyes launched 11, three by Craft, who labored to score seven points.
The Hoosiers aren't in the NCAA Tournament discussion yet. Not with a dozen defeats, nine in the conference. The one- or two-possession games they lost to UConn, Illinois, Nebraska and Minnesota are an issue. As is the homecourt loss to Penn St.
But check the Big Ten standings. Indiana (7-9) has moved ahead of Minnesota (7-10), and the Gophers are listed as the second team out of the 68-team field on several bracket projections.
A year ago Ohio State ruined Indiana's Senior Night. This time Indiana used the win over Ohio State to make 2014 Senior Night more meaningful that it looked two weeks ago. On Wednesday, the Hoosiers play host to Nebraska, a team they led by 16 points before losing in Lincoln Jan. 30.
Beat Nebraska Wednesday. Win a couple of games in the Big Ten Tournament – or win at Michigan next Saturday – and life gets interesting.
Can this team come back from the brink?
"We think so," Sheehey said. "If we win our next two games.
"Obviously we take it one game at a time. If we win our next two games and make a run in the Big Ten Tournament, I think we have a pretty good resume."