BOZICH | Indiana surges into second round of NCAA Tournament
Indiana didn't follow the five-seed script that saw Baylor and Purdue lose Thursday as the Hoosiers roared pas Chattanooga.
DES MOINES, Iowa. (WDRB) – The warning lights flashed everywhere around the Indiana University basketball team Thursday night before they played in the NCAA Tournament East Regional.
A padded brace on Collin Hartman’s right (shooting) arm. The usual extra supportive tape on Robert Johnson’s ailing right ankle. Protection on Juwan Morgan’s injured left shoulder.
Chattanooga, Indiana’s opening opponent, made its way into the tournament by forcing turnovers. Indiana caused issues for itself all season by making turnovers.
Indiana was seeded fifth in the East. Baylor and Purdue, two other five seeds, exited the tournament in games played earlier Thursday. The IU players had watched Baylor melt down against Yale.
None of those things were enough to stop Tom Crean’s team from pushing into the second round of the tournament. The Hoosiers blitzed Chattanooga, 99-74, in Wells Fargo Arena.
Yogi Ferrell led Indiana with 20 points and 10 assists. He made four of seven three-point shots. Crean held him in a 20-second hug when he removed him at the end of the game and didn't release Ferrell until he said, "Yes, sir."
The Hoosiers will play either Kentucky in the second round on Saturday. The Wildcats overwhelmed Stony Brook, 85-57, in the late game.
Indiana improved to 26-7. The Hoosiers have not played Kentucky in four years since the Wildcats beat IU in the semifinals of the South Regional on the way to the national championship.
The first half was wild. Ferrell, Indiana’s point guard, took an elbow to the mouth, which quickly filled with blood. He was treated in the huddle by IU team doctor Larry Rink – and played on even though Dr. Rink said he might require stitches after the game.
Indiana played offense about as efficiently as the Hoosiers can play it, making 61 percent of their shots in the first half.
Indiana lost to Michigan in its opening game of the Big Ten Tournament because the Hoosiers made only four of 17 three-point shots. This has been one of the nation’s 10 best three-point shooting teams all season – and the shooting returned against the Mocs. IU made 10 of its first 16 threes – and eclipsed the school record for three-pointers in a season.
OG Anunoby continued his emergence as Indiana’s most dynamic force – on both ends of the floor. He knocked loose a pair of steals and played his way onto the highlight board by finishing one of them with a 360-degree dunk. Anunoby was IU's second leading scorer with 14 points.
Chattanooga won the Southern Conference because of its ability to press. The Mocs could not press Indiana. They tried for about five minutes and then abandoned that idea. The Hoosiers danced through the pressure and punished the Mocs with layups, dunks and uncontested three-point shots.
The solid offensive play continued at the start of three second half. This is what Indiana did on its first six possessions:
Three-point field goal by Ferrell.
Layup by Hartman.
Layup by Thomas Bryant.
Two free throws by Ferrell.
Dunk by Bryant.
Three-pointer by Nick Zeisloft.
The Hoosiers extended their nine-point halftime lead to 60-43 in less than three minutes.
The three injured players all contributed – Hartman with defense and passing, Johnson with ball-handling and defense and Morgan with a solid inside presence. Hartman had eight points, Johnson seven and Morgan six.
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