Christian Watford, Joseph Bertrand

Christian Watford a key figure for No. 3 Indiana this month

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The Indiana Hoosiers have depth and they do have two of the nation’s best players in junior wing Victor Oladipo and sophomore center Cody Zeller. Zeller scored 24 points (9-of-11 FG) and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Hoosiers past Illinois on Friday afternoon by the final score of 80-64, and Oladipo added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

But for as good as those two have been all year for Tom Crean’s team, whether or not the Hoosiers (27-5) can win a national title will also depend on what they get from senior forward Christian Watford.

Watford scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds against the Fighting Illini, a step in the right direction after struggling down the stretch.

In three of Indiana’s final four regular season games Watford failed to reach double figures, averaging 7.0 points per game and shooting 26.7% from the field in those four games. Entering Friday Watford was averaging 12.4 points per contest and shooting 43.2% from the field (48.6% 3PT), and he shot 50% from the field (3-of-6) while also getting to the foul line (7-of-8) against Illinois.

As a team the Hoosiers shot 54% from the field on Friday and outscored the Illini 40-24 in the paint. With the number of options at Crean’s disposal the Hoosiers are going to be tough for any team to slow down, but that doesn’t mean their road to Atlanta will be an easy one to navigate.

There will be a game during the NCAA tournament in which either Oladipo or Zeller struggle offensively, and that’s where a player like Watford, Jordan Hulls (seven assists) or Will Sheehey (11 points off the bench) comes into play.

“It takes our whole team to win,” said Oladipo following the win. “When guys off the bench step up and when Christian and Jordan step up, it’s huge for us. They’re very capable of that. Without them, we can’t win.”

Watford’s been consistent for much of the season, but in the aftermath of that rough stretch to end the regular season he needed a game like this one to get back on the right track.

And if Watford’s playing well, a Hoosier squad that’s one of the pre-tournament favorites to win it all becomes even tougher to beat.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

VIDEO: Memphis’ Shaq Goodwin gets technical foul for copying famous Vince Carter dunk

Memphis forward Shaq Goodwin (2) shoots over Cincinnati forward Quadri Moore (0) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Thursday, Jan. 21, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/Gary Landers)
(AP Photo/Gary Landers)
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Memphis senior forward Shaq Goodwin picked up one of the dumbest technical fouls of the season on Saturday with the Tigers on the road against Tulane. Goodwin attempted to copy Vince Carter’s famous arm-in-the-rim dunk from the 2000 NBA dunk contest. This would have been okay during pregame warmups, but Goodwin tried to pull this off on a breakaway near the end of the first half. He was quickly hit with the T for hanging on the rim.

Goodwin has good timing when it comes to current events, as the NBA’s dunk contest airs on Saturday night, but the timing of pulling this off in the first half of a tight conference game is not so great.

For past reference, here’s Carter’s original arm-in-the-rim dunk from 2000, which had everyone astonished since it had never been done before.

(H/T: The Cauldron)

No. 20 Providence ends skid with 75-72 win over Georgetown

Providence guard Kris Dunn (3) shoots the ball as Georgetown forward Isaac Copeland (11) and forward Trey Mourning (33) defend during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Providence, R.I., Saturday, Feb. 13, 2016. (AP Photo/Stew Milne)
(AP Photo/Stew Milne)
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) Rodney Bullock had 23 points and 10 rebounds, and No. 20 Providence held off a furious rally to beat Georgetown 75-72 on Saturday.

Kris Dunn added 20 points, and Ben Bentil finished with 16 points and nine rebounds to help the Friars (19-7, 7-6 Big East) end a three-game losing streak.

Georgetown (14-12, 7-6) had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds, but L.J. Peak’s 3-point attempt was blocked by Bullock.

The Hoyas cut what had been a 26-point first-half deficit all the way down to a point with just over a minute to play.

The Friars put the ball in the hands of Dunn and Bentil, and they accounted for 12 of Providence’s final 14 points to help stave off Georgetown’s comeback efforts.

Marcus Derrickson led the Hoyas with 18 points and nine rebounds.

D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, the Hoyas’ leading scorer, knocked down a 3-pointer – his first basket of the game – to pull Georgetown within 70-67 with 2:42 left.

It was 71-67 when Dunn blocked a shot by Smith-Rivera. But Bentil came up empty on a 3-point attempt on Providence’s ensuing possession.

Georgetown got it back and cut it to a point on a 3 by Trey Mourning with 1:08 left.

Bullock was fouled underneath and connected on two free throws to push the lead back up to three.

Out of a timeout, Georgetown ran the shot clock down and Isaac Copeland was fouled on a 3-point attempt by Junior Lomomba with 10 seconds left.

But Copeland got only two of the three free throws, forcing the Hoyas to foul Bentil.

Bentil made both, setting up Georgetown’s final shot.

The Friars’ offense was in sync early, and had an 11-0 run midway through the first half.

Georgetown fell apart on both ends of the court during the stretch, going without a field goal for nearly 7 minutes, and turning it over five times as it fell into a 20-point deficit.

TIP-INS

Georgetown: Had five players in double figures. … Shot 25 percent in the first half (9 for 28).

Providence: Its 49 points in the first half was a season-high. The previous first-half high was 47 points against Hartford on Dec. 2. … Had only two first-half turnovers.

UP NEXT

Georgetown hosts Seton Hall on Wednesday.

Providence travels to No.5 Xavier on Wednesday.