Yogi Ferrell

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No. 12 Indiana finishes regular season with a flourish

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Having already clinched the outright Big Ten regular season title, the question for No. 12 Indiana was whether or not they’d win it by multiple games. No. 14 Maryland represented a worthy challenge, but after getting off to a slow start the Hoosiers found their rhythm as the first half progressed. And in the second half Tom Crean’s team grabbed the game by its throat, going on to win by the final score of 80-62 to win the Big Ten title by two games.

It’s been said before but it bears repeating: the turnaround made by Tom Crean’s team since non-conference play has been highly impressive, regardless of what some say about the strength of Indiana’s conference schedule (KenPom rates Michigan State’s league slate as being slightly weaker, in fact).

The Hoosiers limited Maryland to 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 8-for-24 from three on the day, and they also converted 14 Terrapin turnovers into 20 points. Indiana’s improved effort on the defensive end has been a key in their transformation from struggling team with an embattled head coach during non-conference play to the Big Ten regular season champion. If there was one play in Sunday’s win that can be used as a good example of this, it would be Yogi Ferrell’s diving for a Maryland attempt to roll the ball inbounds late in the second half to save time.

Ferrell could have easily allowed Maryland to pull this off, or even fake an attempt to go after the ball so Maryland would pick up the ball prematurely. Instead he sold out, and that kind of effort has been present throughout Big Ten play. The senior point guard has been the leader for Indiana, but Ferrell’s had plenty of help in pushing the Hoosiers to the top of the Big Ten. Ferrell finished Sunday’s game with 17 points and four assists, and wing Troy Williams led the way with a game-high 23 points to go along with five boards.

Ferrell is undoubtedly Indiana’s most important player. But if the Hoosiers are to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, they’re also going to need an engaged Williams. He was that kind of player against Maryland, playing with an energy that makes him a very difficult matchup for many opponents. This comes on the heels of a solid 15-point, seven-rebound outing in the win at Iowa Tuesday night, and over Indiana’s final five regular season games the junior averaged 16.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.

If Williams can continue on this path in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Indiana will be a tough out. They’ve received contributions across the board, from stars and role players alike, resulting in the program’s second Big Ten title in four years. And as they showed for most of Sunday’s regular season finale, Indiana has the tools needed to accomplish even more over the next month.

LATE NIGHT SNACKS: No. 15 Duke, No. 18 Indiana pick up wins

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: Charlotte 114, UTSA 108 (2OT)

The 49ers and Roadrunners are playing for seeding in the upcoming Conference USA tournament, and they produced an entertaining contest Thursday night. Six players scored at least 21 points in the game, three for each team, with UTSA’s Ryan Bowie leading all scorers with 23 points. Charlotte received a 21-point, 16-rebound outing from Joseph Uchebo and Curran Scott shot 13-for-15 from the foul line in scoring his 22 points for Mark Price’s team.

IMPORTANT OUTCOMES

No. 15 Duke 80, Florida State 65: The Blue Devils were balanced offensively, with Grayson Allen leading five double-digit scorers with 18 points. The Seminoles shot 50 percent from the field, but their 15 turnovers were converted into 16 points by the Blue Devils. Of course, Allen was involved in some controversy following the game regarding the possible tripping of Florida State’s Xavier Rathan-Mayes in the second half.

Seton Hall 70, Providence 52: The Pirates and Friars are headed in opposite directions at the point, as Seton Hall won by a comfortable margin in Newark. Isaiah Whitehead played very well at the point, finishing with 25 points, six rebounds, nine assists and four blocked shots as he was far better than Providence’s Kris Dunn who didn’t appear to be at full strength. The Friars pulled to within seven in the second half, but the loss of Ben Bentil (31 points) to a flagrant 2 with just under five mintues remaining essentially ended the game. Seton Hall’s now 7-1 in its last eight games, and Providence is 2-6 during a similar stretch.

No. 18 Indiana 74, Illinois 47: The Hoosiers moved one step closer to a Big Ten title, as they shut down the Fighting Illini in the second half of their 27-point win in Champaign. Yogi Ferrell led the way with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists, and the Hoosiers’ defensive effort was noteworthy as well. Illinois scored just 19 second-half points, and Indiana (mainly OG Anunoby) managed to limit Malcolm Hill to five points on 2-for-7 shooting.

California 75, UCLA 63: The Golden Bears are evidence that the season’s a marathon rather than a sprint. And with their win over the Bruins, Cuonzo Martin’s team is tied with Arizona and Utah for second place in the Pac-12, a game behind Oregon, with three games left to play. Jabari Bird scored 20 points and Jaylen Brown added 16 and ten boards for Cal, which is now 17-0 at home this season. For all the issues Cal had earlier in the season, they’re hitting their stride at just the right time.

STARRED

Isaiah Whitehead, Seton Hall: 25 points, six rebounds, nine assists, four blocks and just two turnovers in the Pirates’ win over Providence.

Quinton Hooker, North Dakota: Hooker scored a career-high 38 points, with the final two coming on free throws that sealed UND’s 80-77 win over Portland State.

Yogi Ferrell, Indiana: 27 points, five rebounds and five assists in the Hoosiers’ blowout win at Illinois.

STRUGGLED

Kris Dunn, Providence: Eight points on 4-for-12 shooting, no assists and three turnovers in an 18-point loss at Seton Hall.

Malcolm Hill, Illinois: Five points on 2-for-7 shooting in Illinois’ 74-47 loss to Indiana.

Jordan McLaughlin, USC: McLaughlin struggled in the Trojans’ loss at Stanford, scoring two points on 1-for-9 shooting from the field.

THE REST OF THE TOP 25

  • No. 22 Utah steamrolled Arizona State, 81-46, in a game they led 33-4 at one point. Jakob Poeltl was limited to just seven points, but the attention he drew from Arizona State factored into his teammates making a school-record 17 three-pointers. Brekott Chapman led four Runnin’ Utes in double figures with 15 points while also grabbing nine rebounds.
  • No. 24 SMU moved into a tie for first in the American with a 69-62 win at Memphis. Sterling Brown scored 14 points and Nic Moore and Markus Kennedy added 12 apiece for the Mustangs, who are looking to win back-to-back regular season conference titles for the first time since they won three straight from 1965-67 (Southwest Conference).

OTHER NOTABLE RESULTS

  • Hofstra moved into a tie for first in the CAA with a 70-69 comeback win at UNCW, which entered the game in sole possession of the top spot. The Pride trailed by as much as 18 Thursday night, avenging a home loss to UNCW February 4 that they led by 22 at one point.
  • ETSU moved to 13-4 in SoCon play with an 80-75 win over Furman. Ge’Lawn Guyn led five Bucs in double figures with 23 points, and ETSU trails first-place Chattanooga (13-3) by a game in the loss column.
  • UConn took care of business on the road, beating USF 81-51 in Tampa. Rodney Purvis led the way for the Huskies with 18 points.
  • North Florida wrapped up the A-Sun regular season title and home court advantage throughout the conference tournament with an 81-80 win at Jacksonville. The Dolphins will be the three-seed, with league newcomer NJIT the two and FGCU the four-seed.
  • Also wrapping up home court advantage throughout its conference tournament was Wagner, which clinched the NEC title with a 69-54 home win over Saint Francis (PA). Behind the Seahawks are four teams (Mount St. Mary’s, St. Francis-Brooklyn, Fairleigh Dickinson and Sacred Heart) with matching 10-7 league records heading into Saturday’s close to the NEC’s regular season schedule.
  • High Point outlasted Winthrop 87-85 to move into a three-way tie for first place in the Big South, but the win may have come at a cost for Scott Cherry’s Panthers. Star forward John Brown left the game with a foot injury and did not return. His status will be a key factor in the upcoming conference tournament.
  • IPFW clinched at least a share of the Summit League regular season crown with an 87-75 win at Western Illinois. Mike Landis scored 24 points for the Mastodons, who received 19 points apiece from Michael Calder and John Konchar.
  • Montana and Weber State both took care of business in their respective games, setting up a showdown with first place in the Big Sky on the line Saturday. The Grizzlies won 90-77 at Idaho State, and Weber State beat Montana State 68-60 without the injured Joel Bolomboy.
  • Joining Charlotte and UTSA in triple digits Thursday was Omaha, which scored 102 points in its four-point win over Oral Roberts. Devin Patterson scored 29 points and Randy Reed 21 for the Mavericks, who shot 56.3 percent from the field.
  • Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga both moved to 14-3 in WCC play, with the Gaels beating Santa Clara 75-50 and Gonzaga winning 82-60 at San Diego. The Gaels hold the head-to-head tiebreaker, so Gonzaga will need some help if they’re to grab the top seed in next weekend’s conference tournament.
  • USC is still searching for its 20th win of the season as they were blown out by Stanford, 84-64. Dorian Pickens led the way for the Cardinal with 25 points, with Rosco Allen adding 17 points.
  • Kyle Collinsworth posted the NCAA record 11th triple-double of his career in BYU’s 99-81 win over Portland. Collinsworth finished with 14 points, ten rebounds and 16 assists.
  • Playing without forward Taylor Johns, UC Riverside handed Hawai’i its second Big West loss of the season, 77-71 in Honolulu. Jaylen Bland scored 20 points and Secean Johnson 19 to go along with ten rebounds to lead the way for Dennis Cutts’ Highlanders, with D.J. Sylvester scoring 18 off the bench.

PREGAME SHOOTAROUND: Big Ten showdown and key bubble battles

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GAME OF THE NIGHT: No. 4 Iowa at Indiana, 9:00 p.m.

As a result of their surprising loss at Penn State Saturday night, Tom Crean’s Hoosiers enter this pivotal contest a game back of the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten standings. And with their backloaded conference schedule, this is a game Indiana has to get if they’re to entertain thoughts of winning the Big Ten title. Two of the Big Ten’s best players will be on display in Iowa’s Jarrod Uthoff and Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell, but both have plenty of help behind them offensively.

Iowa’s Peter Jok has been one of the conference’s most improved players, and the Hoosiers can counter not only with forward Troy Williams but with freshman center Thomas Bryant as well. The key in this one: turnovers, as Indiana has lost the ball on more than 20 percent of their possessions in conference play. That can’t happen tonight if they’re to win.

THIS ONE’S GOOD TOO: No. 11 Oregon at California, 9:00 p.m.

The Ducks have been the class of the Pac-12 to this point, but a win in Berkeley won’t come easy. The Golden Bears may not be enjoying the success many expected before the season began, but Cuonzo Martin’s team has won all 14 of its home games this season, most recently whipping rival Stanford last weekend.

The problem for Cal: Tyrone Wallace is still out due to injury, and given Oregon’s many versatile scoring options that’s a problem. Pac-12 POY candidate Dillon Brooks leads the way, but Chris Boucher has emerged as one of the conference’s best big men in recent weeks. Jaylen Brown, Ivan Rabb and Jordan Mathews will need to come up big, as this is a huge contest for Cal’s NCAA tournament hopes.

FIVE THINGS TO WATCH FOR

  • The top two teams in the Big West get together in Honolulu, as Hawai’i hosts UC Irvine (1:00 a.m.) in the first of their two meetings this season. This will be a matchup of strengths when the Bows have the ball, as they lead the Big West in two-point field goal percentage (54.7) while UC Irvine leads the conference in two-point percentage defense (38.9) thanks in large part to 7-foot-6 Mamadou Ndiaye. Hawai’i forward Stefan Jankovic (15.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg) has been a much-improved player under first-year head coach Eran Ganot, leading the team in both scoring and rebounding.
  • Two ACC teams with matching 6-5 league records meet at the Carrier Dome, as Syracuse hosts Florida State (7:00 p.m.) in a game both teams need for their respective NCAA tournament résumés. Jim Boeheim’s team should be well-rested, as they haven’t played in nine days, and they’ll need that energy to slow down FSU guards Xavier Rathan-Mayes, Malik Beasley and Dwayne Bacon. The Seminole backcourt is young but talented, and they’ll face two fifth-year seniors in Syracuse’s Michael Gbinije and Trevor Cooney.
  • Picking up a home sweep of Utah and Colorado may have given Oregon State’s NCAA tournament hopes some life, but they really need to go on a run here. Tonight’s game at Stanford (11:00 p.m.) represents a good opportunity for Gary Payton II and company to win their third straight, but the Cardinal did win the first meeting in Corvallis back on January 6. In that game rebounding was the deciding factor (Rosco Allen finished with 21 and eight boards, too), as Stanford grabbed half of their available missed shots. OSU can’t let that happen again.
  • With SMU ineligible for postseason play, the other American Athletic Conference teams are jockeying for position in next month’s conference tournament. Tonight UConn looks to avenge its home loss to Temple January 5 with a win in Philadelphia (7:00 p.m.). Since Amida Brimah’s return the Huskies have played much better basketball, as they have their rim protector and a finisher for Daniel Hamilton’s alley-oop passes back on the court. The Owls have won their last three games, and tonight is their second-best remaining opportunity for a quality win (they play No. 1 Villanova next Wednesday).
  • At this point, no one’s catching Wichita State for the Missouri Valley regular season title without the Shockers collapsing in epic fashion. But when it comes to who can earn the conference’s automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, both Illinois State and Evansville have a shot. The two teams meet in Evansville tonight (8:00 p.m.), with three of the Valley’s best players on display in ISU’s DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell and Evansville’s D.J. Balentine and Edigijus Mockevicius. Evansville won the first meeting by 11 in mid-January, as the Redbirds shot 6-for-31 from three on the night.

OTHER NOTABLE GAMES

  • Mercer at Wofford, 7:00 p.m.
  • Hofstra at William & Mary, 7:00 p.m.
  • High Point at Coastal Carolina, 7:00 p.m.
  • James Madison at College of Charleston, 7:00 p.m.
  • Milwaukee at Oakland, 7:00 p.m.
  • Pepperdine at Saint Mary’s, 11:00 p.m.

No. 22 Indiana rips off 25-0 run, blows out Michigan

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With 14:31 remaining in the first half Derrick Walton Jr. hit a three-pointer to give Michigan a 15-4 lead at home against No. 22 Indiana. With the Hoosiers tied for first in the Big Ten, this could have been a nice win for the Wolverines’ NCAA tournament résumé. Unfortunately for John Beilein’s team things didn’t play out that way, with Walton’s shot essentially being the team’s final highlight of the game.

Indiana would outscore the Wolverines 41-9 the rest of the half, and that included a 25-0 run over the final 8:42, on their way to an 80-67 win that wasn’t as close as the final margin would indicate. The run can be seen in the embedded tweet below, with the baskets that came as part of the 25-0 finish starting at the 12 second mark.

The fact that Indiana put points on the board is no surprise at all; the Hoosiers have been one of the most efficient teams in the country even with the season-ending injury suffered by James Blackmon Jr. The area that has changed for the Hoosiers has been their defense, most notably the effort shown on that end of the floor.

Early in the season Indiana was at best indifferent on defense, with their ability to score points serving as a crutch players were far too willing to rely on. That’s changed in recent weeks, even with Indiana’s relatively light conference schedule to this point. Yogi Ferrell’s been the leader for Indiana, with Thomas Bryant making strides and role players such as Max Bielfeldt and OG Anunoby chipping in as well.

Michigan shot just 28.1 percent from the field in the first half Tuesday night, as Indiana took away the high-quality looks the Wolverines were able to find at the game’s start. Michigan aims to spread teams with the way in which they run their offense, using screens and cuts to produce quality shots. But the Hoosiers remained disciplined, and the open looks were few and far between for the home team as a result.

Given Indiana’s conference schedule they’ve still got some major challenges in front of them before the end of the regular season, with games against Iowa (twice), Michigan State, Purdue and Maryland remaining on the schedule. But there’s no denying that Indiana has made significant improvements since their struggles in some high-profile non-conference games, making the Hoosiers a team that’s at the very least better equipped to hold their own in those upcoming games against the Big Ten’s best.

Bryant helps No. 19 Hoosiers hold off Gophers for 74-68 win

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana’s Thomas Bryant got down and dirty Saturday and looked good doing it.

He scored points, banged inside, played defense and jump-started the Hoosiers’ sometimes anemic offense at three key points.

The freshman center had a career-high 23 points, grabbed eight rebounds and scored the go-ahead basket on a putback with 1:56 left to help No. 19 Indiana fend off Minnesota’s frantic second-half rally for a 74-68 victory.

“It was just one of those games that you have to do some things to find a way to win the game and he had a big impact,” coach Tom Crean said.

Bryant made plays on both ends in a game the Hoosiers (18-4, 8-1 Big Ten) desperately needed after the Golden Gophers erased a 16-point second-half deficit and took a 67-66 lead with 3:54 to go.

But Bryant clogged up the middle and the Golden Gophers didn’t make another basket.

Offensively, Bryant’s basket off the rebound and an emphatic dunk with 27 seconds left made it 70-67. That was all the Hoosiers needed.

“I felt like Thomas stayed with it even when calls didn’t go his way,” senior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell said after scoring 13 points. “He kept his head, he played great defense, he rebounded well for us and he had that poise for us.”

This was no typical game for the surging Hoosiers.

They started slow, didn’t take the lead until midway through the first half, didn’t make a 3-pointer for the first 14 1/2 minutes and couldn’t close it out against a team that has now lost 11 in a row.

Minnesota (6-16, 0-10) was led by Nate Mason and Kevin Dorsey, who each had 21 points. Dorsey’s scoring total was a career high.

After trailing 39-27 at halftime and 48-32 with 16:33 to play, the Gophers rallied.

They scored six straight points, went on an 11-4 run and finally took the lead when Dupree Brayer came up with a steal and scored on a breakaway dunk that sent the Gophers bench jumping up and down while most of the fans inside Assembly Hall were stunned.

Bryant made sure it didn’t last.

“I think maybe they tightened up a little bit defensively, so you’ve got to give them credit,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “I know a lot of people make fun of us, our record, and so on. But these guys, they’re fighting.”

TOPSY-TURVY TURNAROUND

Minnesota opened the game with a 7-0 lead, then fell into a 12-point halftime deficit after Indiana went on a 22-4 run. The Gophers turned things around in the second half and came up short. It’s not the first time this season things have gotten a little topsy-turvy. Indiana rallied from a nine-point first-half deficit for a 70-63 win earlier this month at Minnesota.

THE SHOOTERS

Both teams finished 2 of 18 on 3-pointers, but it was Indiana’s numbers that really turned heads. The Hoosiers set a conference record in league play with 18 3s the last time Minnesota came to Bloomington, and the Hoosiers started the day No. 3 in the nation in 3-point percentage (44.4 percent). Afterward, Cream said he would have liked his team to have taken even more 3s.

SHORT-HANDED

After the game, Pitino noted that his team almost pulled off a major upset on the road despite playing with only seven scholarship players. Senior guard Carlos Morris, a team captain and former starter, missed the game to attend the funeral of a family friend.

TIP-INS

Minnesota: Outscored Indiana 48-42 in the paint and had the same offensive rebound total (10) as Indiana. … In addition to losing 11 in a row, the Gophers have lost three straight in the Indiana series and 15 of their last 16 Big Ten regular season games.

Indiana: Troy Williams also scored 13 points and had six rebounds. … Came into the game with three consecutive home wins by 25 or more points for the first time since 1987-88.

UP NEXT

Minnesota visits Northwestern on Thursday.

Indiana visits Michigan on Tuesday.

No. 25 Indiana routs Illinois 103-69 on Ferrell’s big night

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Troy Williams scored 21 points and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell finished with 16 points and nine assists Tuesday night, helping No. 25 Indiana blow out Illinois 103-69.

It was a milestone night for Ferrell. The senior guard broke Michael Lewis’ career record for assists (545. He has 553. Ferrell moved within 13 points of passing Eric Anderson for No. 10 on the Hoosiers’ career scoring list.

All that came on a night that the Hoosiers (16-3, 6-0 Big Ten) extending their winning streak to 11 and set a school record with 19 3-pointers.

Illinois (9-10, 1-5) was led by Malcolm Hill with 20 points and Kendrick Nunn with 10.

But this one got away in a hurry.

Indiana closed out the first half on a 20-4 run to take a 42-25 lead and opened the second half by making five of its first six shots to seal it.

Ferrell’s big night came with all the trimmings.

The crowd roared when he threw a nifty pass into the post, which set up Max Bielfeldt’s layup with 11:18 left in the first half and gave the Hoosiers a 19-11 lead.

His teammates took the cue when he started knocking down 3s.

Coach Tom Crean even raised Ferrell’s hand when he came out for the final time, with 4:25 to play.

But this took more than just one man.

After Illinois used a 10-0 spurt to trim an 11-point deficit to 22-21, the Hoosiers’ defense buckled down and allowed just one basket in the final 7:38 of the first half. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers’ 3-point barrage continued.

The combination never gave the Illini a chance to get back into the game.

Indiana wound up 19 of 36 from beyond the arc, breaking a game record that was set against Minnesota in 2015.

Illinois has lost eight straight road games since a victory at Michigan State last February.

THE STREAK

The 11-game winning streak is the second-longest of Crean’s tenure. Indiana started 2011-12 by going 12-0. The Hoosiers’ longest winning streak since 2000 is 13, in 2007-08. If Indiana sweeps its final three games this month – two at home and a trip to Wisconsin – it would be the Hoosiers’ first perfect January since the 1991-92 Final Four team went 7-0.

TIP-INS

Illinois: Are 1-3 against ranked teams this season. … Freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands finished with six points in his first trip home. Coleman-Lands is the first Indiana recruit to play at Illinois in 30 years. … Illinois was averaging 9.3 3s over the last 12 games and had a league-best average of 9.7 turnovers this season but wound up 7 of 18 on 3s and had 15 turnovers Tuesday.

Indiana: Remain atop the Big Ten standings as one of two unbeaten teams in league play. … Indiana has shot 50 percent or better from the field in 23 of its last 52 games and has shot 40 percent or better from beyond the arc 31 times during that span – the most in the nation.

UP NEXT

Illinois visits Minnesota on Saturday.

Indiana hosts Northwestern on Saturday.