Top Five Indiana Hoosier Individual Performances of the Season

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IMarch 15, 2010

Usually in a 10 win 21 loss season, it would be tough to find many good performances.

However, ironically some of Indiana's best performances this season came in losses.

Everyone knows that basketball is a team game, especially in college, but one man's performance in a contest can help propel his team to victory.

Here are my picks for the top five individual performances for the Indiana Hoosiers this season.

No. 5-Christian Watford vs. Pittsburgh, December 8, 2009: 18 points (3-12 fg, 12-15 ft), five rebounds, three blocks.

Under the bright lights at "The World's Most Famous Arena," Madison Square Garden, Christian Watford's performance gave IU its fourth win of the season and the 200th win of Tom Crean's career.

Watford took advantage of the much smaller Pittsburgh Panthers using his long frame to shoot over the smaller defenders get himself to the line. His three baskets were all layups, and his 12 free throws made were as many as the whole Pitt team made.

Watford also had just two turnovers in the game, impressive for a freshman.

No. 4 Verdell Jones III vs. Michigan, December 31, 2009. 20 points (7-14 fg, 1-1 3fg, 5-8 ft), eight rebounds, five assists, three steals. 

The final day of the decade was an important one for the Hoosiers. Star freshman guard Maurice Creek had just been ruled out for the season after breaking his kneecap just days earlier, and Indiana had to find a new go to player.

It was also Indiana's first Big Ten game of the season, and they had finished the last season with a 10 game losing streak, and were determined not to continue that into this season.

With the season hanging in the balance, Verdell Jones III stepped up, and delivered.

Jones was excellent whether it was running the point, or leading the Hoosiers down the court in transition, scoring easy layups, or hitting his trademark mid range jumper.

He also dished out five assists, was a beast on the boards with eight rebounds, including two on the offensive end, and his three steals all led to either Indiana free throws, or Indiana baskets.

After being somewhat of a sidekick to Creek and Watford in the first half of the season, Verdell Jones emerged as the Hoosier's go to man for the second half of the season.

No. 3 Jordan Hulls vs. Northwestern, March 6, 2010: 24 points (8-13 fg, 8-12 3fg) two rebounds, four assists, one steal.

On senior day, and the final home game of the Hoosiers 2009-2010 season, hometown hero Jordan Hulls exploded for eight three pointers in a high octane overtime win over the Northwestern Wildcats.

The freshman guard had been having trouble scoring up to that point, with most fans believing he had hit the so called "freshman wall." In his last five games, he hit just 31 percent of his shots (9-29) from the field, including just 20 percent from behind the arc (5-20).

But after Hulls hit his first three of the game just over two minutes into the game, every shot kept falling through the net.

In the second half, Hulls hit two threes in seven seconds as part of a 12-3 run to get the Hoosiers back in the lead.

And in overtime, Hulls was open yet again, hit his eighth three of the game, and then proceeded to steal the ball back and help get the Cream and Crimson back on the offensive.

Hulls performance was reminiscent of Matt Roth's nine three point baskets scored last year at Assembly Hall against Ohio State.

The 24 points by Hulls helped the Hoosiers avoid losing for a 12th straight game, and gave fans something good to feel about going into the next season.

No. 2 Verdell Jones III vs. Minnesota, January 17, 2010: 24 points (5-13 fg, 1-2 3fg, 13-19 ft), seven rebounds, three assists.

With less than five minutes left in regulation, the Hoosiers were up by 9 points, seemingly on their way to Big Ten win No. 2. But the Hoosiers let Minnesota go on an 11-2 run to finish regulation tied at 70.

The Golden Gophers hot shooting continued into the overtime period, and after having a 15 point lead earlier in the game, the Hoosiers were down 76-71 in front of a stunned and heartbroken Assembly Hall.

Then, after missing his first, Verdell Jones misses the second but got his own rebound and the Hoosiers come away with a basket.

Two free throws in four trips for the Gophers make the score 78-73 before Jones III gets another offensive rebound and is fouled while shooting. He hit both free throws to make it 78-75.

Seconds later, a turnover by the Gophers ends up in Jones hands, where he buries a jumper. 78-77 Minnesota.

At the other end of the court, a block by Jeremiah Rivers on a Devoe Joseph layup springs Jones for another jumper.

After being down by five in overtime, the Hoosiers through Verdell Jones' six clutch points take a one point lead, 79-78, and it was one they would not relinquish.

While Jones had a good game up to that point, he single handily brought the Hoosiers and Assembly Hall back from what seemed a defeat to a big 81-78 victory over a talented Gophers team.

No. 1 Maurice Creek vs. Kentucky, December 12, 2009: 31 points (9-14 fg, 5-8 3fg, 8-8 ft), one rebound, one assist, two steals.

In front of the loudest crowd heard at Assembly Hall in years and on national television, Maurice Creek announced his arrival in Indiana with an amazing 31 point performance against a Kentucky team that has been ranked in the top 10 the whole season.

Creek was able to hit almost anything he shot, mixing in layups, mid range jumpers, and five threes, to go along with his eight free throws.

For the first 25 minutes of the game, Kentucky didn't have an answer for the talented freshman guard. Finally, with UK guards Darius Miller and Eric Bledsoe constantly face guarding Creek, was Kentucky able to pull away from the Hoosiers.

His performance earned rave reviews from Kentucky coach John Calipari, as well as Indiana coach Tom Crean, who recruited Creek to come to IU over Maryland, Pittsburgh, and Texas.

Unfortunately, just a couple of weeks later, after a 29 point performance vs. North Carolina Central, he broke his kneecap, and was forced to spend the rest of the season on the sidelines.

However, surely next season there will be more top performances from Creek to come.

Like my picks? Don't like them? Have any other suggestions? Leave me a comment below!


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