Saturday, December 10, 2011

VIDEO: Indiana upsets No. 1 Kentucky on a buzzer beater

Kentucky had two fouls to give.

That's why, with less than five seconds left and only a two point lead, Marquis Teague lunged at Verdell Jones in the back court. Teague missed, however, and Jones got into the Kentucky defense, finding Christian Watford all alone on the wing. Watford hit the three, setting off a court-storming that was four Kelvin Sampson-induced years in the making:

Indiana needed this win.

Its a statement. It shows the country that the Hoosiers are, in fact, back and relevant. And college basketball is better when Indiana is relevant.

All you have to do is look at this game to understand why. The state of Indiana is as basketball crazy. Their fans are as boisterous and passionate as any in the country, and that includes the members of Big Blue Nation. The atmosphere in Assembly Hall on Saturday afternoon was unreal. The place was rocking hours before the game started, and while some blue managed to make its way into the stands, the fact that there was so little from a fan base that travels incredibly well and shares a border with Indiana tells you how tough of a ticket this was.

Indiana students tried to lineup for this game on Tuesday in weather that was so cold the university deemed it unsafe for them to camp out. Their dedication was rewarded when Watford hit that three, but the court-storming that ensued wasn't just a reaction to the excitement of a buzzer-beating victory, one that may not be topped this season.

It was the release of years of pent-up frustration. It was the wave of joy, the celebration that, finally, after toiling through the initial rebuilding process, Indiana basketball is back. It was concrete proof that Tom Crean's plan for the future of this program is working. And there was no better way for that to happen than the Hoosiers taking out a heated rival that was ranked No. 1 in the country on their home floor.

What We Learned


- The Hoosiers have quite a few offensive weapons at their disposal. Cody Zeller -- who finished with 11 points -- has been terrific all season long, giving Indiana a low-post scoring presence. Jordy Hulls is a lethal shooter that has come a long way as a distributor. Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey, Verdell Jones -- these are all guys capable of scoring double figures on any given night.

Indiana's biggest weapon, however, is probably Christian Watford. The junior hasn't exactly had an ideal season, but he's played his best when the lights are the brightest. He had 16 points and nine boards against NC State. And he had 20 points, including 17 in the second half and the game-winning three, against the Wildcats. Watford showed on an impressively versatile offensive skill-set. If he can use this game as a springboard, he and Zeller can create a devastating high-low, front court combo.

- As good as Indiana was in this game, they nearly blew it because they stopped getting the ball to Zeller. The big fella had Anthony Davis, who was saddled with four fouls, guarding him down the stretch, but the Hoosiers barely even looked his way during the last eight minutes of the game. It worked out this time, but that's something that will have to be addressed.

- Depth may end up being a major problem for this team. Eight players saw time for Indiana against Kentucky, but Crean essentially used a six-man rotation -- Tom Pritchard isn't the kind of player that is going to see a lot of minutes if Indiana is going to be a Big Ten contender.


- I loved what I saw out of Marquis Teague tonight. The freshman has not had the easiest start to his career, but given the ability of the point guards that John Calipari recruits, its hard to keep in mind that he is, in fact, a freshman. Teague didn't play like it on Saturday. He finished with 15 points and five assists (and just three turnovers) while making a number of big plays down the stretch to bring Kentucky back.

- I hated what I saw out of Terrence Jones: four points, one rebound, six turnovers, three shots, and the bench down the stretch. He was quite clearly sulking late in the game when he wasn't getting playing time. If this happened in a vacuum, I might be able to chalk it up to Jones having a bad day. But we've seen this before, although not quite to this degree. I went overboard ripping him on twitter during the game, and while I regret the words I used to describe him, the sentiment in the same -- Jones can be soft and a primadonna. He appears to have an attitude that doesn't respond well to adversity. I guarantee NBA teams have noticed that as well.

- Indiana did get a bit lucky with Anthony Davis getting in foul trouble. Combine that with how Jones played, and the Wildcats got minimal production out of their front court on Saturday.

- I think that, by the end of the season, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will end up being the most valuable player on this team. He's just a scrapper, but an incredibly talented scrapper. He defends, he's vicious on the offensive glass, he finishes around the rim and he has the skills to play the point if need be. If I could have one player in college basketball to start a team, it would take some convincing for me not to take MKG first.

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