Indiana sends Kentucky home

By Brendan Stiles, The Sports Xchange  |  March 19, 2016 at 9:32 PM
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DES MOINES, Iowa -- Indiana sent shockwaves inside Wells Fargo Arena and through the college basketball world on Saturday, as the fifth-seeded Hoosiers stunned the fourth-seeded Kentucky Wildcats in the second round of the East Regional, 73-67.

With the victory, Indiana (27-7) advances to the Sweet 16 for the third time in five years and will play next week in Philadelphia. Kentucky's season ends with a 27-9 record.

"We're obviously elated to win a game of this magnitude," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. "Not just because it was the NCAA Tournament and the Round of 32, but against such a great program.

"That team was every bit as good as we thought they were from watching them on film. The film didn't lie and our guys did a great job in a short period of time of getting ready for what we knew would be a tremendous physical and mental battle."

Freshman center Thomas Bryant finished with a team-high 19 points, along with five rebounds, for Indiana. Senior guard Yogi Ferrell had 18 points and also tallied five rebounds and four assists, while junior forward Troy Williams added 13 points to the Hoosiers' cause.

Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis finished with a game-high 27 points on 10-of-20 shooting for the Wildcats.

With 7:44 remaining, the game was as even as it could possibly be. Both teams had 50 points and both teams shot an identical 19-of-45 from the floor.

It was then where Indiana began seizing control of this contest. The Hoosiers moved ahead when Bryant converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to make it 53-50.

Then it was another Indiana freshman, forward OG Anunoby, draining a 3-pointer to extend the lead to six.

Bryant put the Hoosiers up 10 with a dunk with 4:10 left to make it 62-52 and then added another dunk in the final minutes to give Indiana a 66-57 advantage.

"We knew it was going to be tough to defend Kentucky, so we just tried to stick to our keys on defense, take away what they wanted," Ferrell said. "I felt when we got those multiple stops in a row, that's when our break happens and good things happen with that.

"When we're just driving to the rim, playing inside out, we're unstoppable."

The Hoosiers finished the game making six of their last seven shot attempts.

Early on, Kentucky looked as if it would be the more dominant team, jumping out to a 9-2 lead before an 8-0 run by the Hoosiers put Indiana back ahead. Despite trailing 33-32 at halftime, the Wildcats led the majority of the first half thanks in large part to the play of Ulis,

"I felt like with the way they were playing ball screens, I could get around them and try to force my way in there and I got to the basket a lot," Ulis said.

As a team, the Wildcats finished the half shooting 44 percent after starting just 3-of-12 from the floor. But from that 7:44 mark in the second half on, when both teams were 19-of-45 shooting, the Wildcats made just five of their last 12 attempts and finished just 4-of-16 from behind the arc. To make matters worse for Kentucky, freshman guard Jamal Murray was just 1-of-9 from 3-point range.

"We couldn't make enough shots," Kentucky head coach John Calipari said. "I felt we could have thrown it into the post and scored, but we miss, I'm guessing five 1-footers, seven 1-footers.

"Can I say this? They're not machines and they're not computers. Stuff happens."

Indiana did suffer one significant injury during the first half when sophomore guard Robert Johnson re-injured his left ankle at the 5:07 mark. Johnson had missed four games due to the ankle injury before returning for the Hoosiers' first round contest against Chattanooga. He came back to the Hoosiers' bench right before halftime, but did not play the rest of the contest.

NOTES: Saturday marked the fifth time Indiana and Kentucky have met in the NCAA Tournament. The Wildcats won three of the previous four postseason meetings, including a 102-90 victory over the Hoosiers in the Sweet 16 back in 2012. ... Kentucky held a 34-30 edge on the glass in this game. The Wildcats entered leading the nation with an average of 33 rebounds per game. ... Indiana shot 6-of-21 from 3-point range on Saturday. The Hoosiers entered the game ranked third nationally in 3-point shooting percentage, averaging 42 percent shooting per game from behind the arc.

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