Indiana Hoosiers Played Inspired Basketball in a Losing Effort Against Kentucky

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2009

For 20 minutes, the Indiana Hoosiers looked like they could play with the best of the best.

For 20 minutes, Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana felt like it was back in the Bob Knight era, with a sellout crowd making more noise than thought possible.

For 20 minutes, Indiana looked like it would have the chance to pull off its biggest upset in years, against the hated Kentucky Wildcats. 

Unfortunately, there are 40 minutes in college basketball and the Hoosiers were not able to keep up the inspired effort for the whole game.

An 18-0 run early in the second half, derailed a Hoosier team that was down just 42-41 at halftime and shot 63 percent from the field in the first half.

Kentucky used their superior size and athleticism throughout the game to stay in front and break the game wide open in the second half, and finish with a 90-73 scoreline.

They were patient on offense when the Hoosiers weren't and they were very physical on the backboards, outrebounding Indiana 49-24, including 21 offensive rebounds, which led to many second chance points,but the Hoosiers weren't all that bad.

Helped on by the electric crowd in a packed Assembly Hall, the Cream and Crimson committed just nine turnovers and had 17 assists.

They were buoyed by the huge performance of Maurice Creek.

Creek, a freshman from Oxen Hill, Maryland, had 17 points at halftime and finished with 31 points, the most against Kentucky since former star guard Bracey Wright went for 30 in 2003 and the most ever against Kentucky by a freshman. Creek was 9-of-14 from the field with five three-pointers and a perfect 8-of-8 from the charity stripe.

His performance earned high praise from both Tom Crean and John Calipari, but it was not enough for the Hoosiers, who struggled on the offensive end in the second half and failed to have anyone but Creek score in double figures.

For Kentucky, the forward trio of Patrick Patterson, DeMarcus Cousins, and Daniel Orton dominated down in the post, while John Wall and Eric Bledsoe ran circles around the Hoosiers guards.

Bledsoe, also a freshman guard, was great on both ends of the court, slowing down Creek in the second half, as well as adding 23 points of his own on 8-of-10 shooting with four three-pointers.

Patterson finished with 19 points and 11 rebounds, eight of those coming on the offensive glass, most of which were tipped into the basket.

Indiana showed the nation that they are a much improved side than from a year ago, and within a year or two, this squad should be rubbing shoulder to shoulder with the nation's elite.