The Indiana men’s basketball team pulled off their biggest win of the Tom Crean era on Tuesday night, knocking off Pittsburgh 74-64 at Madison Square Garden. With former coach Bob Knight in attendance and witnessing his first IU game since his 2000 firing, the young Hoosiers put on an impressive display of hustle and tenacity in upsetting the heavily favored Pitt Panthers.
Led by Tipton‘s Derek Elston’s seven points off the bench, IU held a four point halftime lead. That’s when Crean called on brother-in-law Jim Harbaugh, a former Indianapolis Colts legend and the current coach of Stanford, to give the team a little pep talk. Said Crean, “I can tell you they never heard a halftime speech like that. They were charging out of that locker room.”
The Hoosiers did indeed come charging out in the second half, building an 11 point lead in the first 10 minutes. They didn’t stop there, eventually stretching the margin to 18 with just over two minutes to play before Pittsburgh made a late run. Verdell Jones III led all Hoosiers in scoring with 20 points, chipping in three assists and three blocked shots as well. Freshman starters Maurice Creek and Christian Watford struggled shooting the ball, making only 6-of-22 shots, but Watford got to the foul line 15 times (making 12), and Creek led the team with eight rebounds to go along with four assists, two blocks and two steals.
Off the bench, another freshman, Bobby Capobianco, had seven points and four rebounds in 19 minutes of action, and Devan Dumes, a product of Decatur Central High School and Vincennes University, added five rebounds and two big assists. It was the Hoosiers first win of the season away from Assembly Hall, and they’ll hope to carry that momentum into Saturday’s interstate rivalry game with Kentucky. The Wildcats come into the contest undefeated and ranked fourth in the nation. Tip-off from Bloomington is 12:00 pm.
The Bulldogs played prior to Indiana in the first game of the Jimmy V Classic from Madison Square Garden. They faced a Georgetown squad ranked 15th in the nation, the third opponent Butler’s faced who’s been ranked thus far in the season (they lost to both Clemson and Minnesota). Despite a game effort, the same problems that have plagued the Bulldogs all season showed up again against the Hoyas. Butler made just 19-of-61 field goal attempts (31%), and Connersville product Matt Howard, the team’s best post player, fouled out for the fifth time in nine games. Georgetown dominated the glass, outrebounding Butler 40-26, and their athleticism and length were too much to handle on the offensive end.
After the Hoyas built a 17-point lead in the second half, the Bulldogs used some tremendous free-throw shooting and defensive intensity to claw their way back. When Newcastle‘s Zach Hahn made a three-pointer with 41 seconds left, Butler trailed by just five points, but that was as close as they’d get, eventually losing 72-65.
Gordon Hayward, a sophomore out of Brownsburg High School, led Butler in both scoring and rebounding with 24 and 8, and Shelvin Mack contributed 12 points. Hahn came off the bench to hit three treys, finishing with 11 points of his own. Other than those three players, nobody else on the Bulldogs was able to get anything going.
Brad Stevens‘ squad is back in action Saturday against another Top 25 ranked team. The 13th ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, led by former Butler coach Thad Matta, visit Hinkle Fieldhouse for a noon tip-off. Indianapolis sports fans can purchase tickets by contacting the Butler ticket office, or by visiting the Clowes Memorial Hall box office between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. throughout the week.
In other Indianapolis college basketball news…
Matt Painter‘s undefeated Purdue team obliterated Buffalo 101-65 this past weekend, and take on Valparaiso University on Wednesday night. After Valparaiso, the Boilers travel to Alabama and then host Ball State and SIU Edwardsville before beginning Big Ten play on December 29 at Iowa.
The IUPUI Jaguars are 7-2 with their only losses coming at Auburn and Kansas State. Ron Hunter‘s squad travel to South Bend to take on Notre Dame on Wednesday night. Led by Summit League Player of the Week Robert Glenn and Ben Davis alum Alex Young, the Jags stand a legitimate chance at beating the 8-1 Irish. The team will then return to downtown Indianapolis to play Duquesne and IU South Bend at The Jungle, before heading to Indiana State and Memphis to wrap up non-conference play.