Indiana Stuns Kentucky on the 2011 Version of the "Shot"
10 years ago Kirk Haston drained a three as time expired that gave Indiana a 59-58 victory over No. 1 Michigan State. Fast forward 10 years and you will find Christian Watford draining a three right in front of the Indiana bench as time expired to give Indiana a 73-72 victory over No. 1 ranked Kentucky.
His shot will forever go down in history as one of the biggest shots in Indiana basketball history.
Many people said Indiana had no shot last night against Kentucky. People thought Kentucky would blow Indiana out by 20+ points. The critics said Indiana hasn't played anyone yet despite their 8-0 record, and almost made it sound like they didn't even belong on the same court.
Now, Indiana is officially back and is heading to a top-25 ranking in next week's polls for the first time in over four years.
Watford's shot did more than just win the game for the Hoosiers. His shot brought back the Hoosiers from a program in dismay for the first three years of the Tom Crean era to a legit national powerhouse. They looked as if they won the NCAA Championship after the shot, but in the grand scheme of things, they did win their own championship.
They won a championship over the old Indiana Hoosiers and the program Kelvin Sampson made them after he left them in dismay.
Kelvin Sampson took this program into the ground and looked as if they would never return to glory. He set them so far back with illegal recruiting tactics that Indiana was a cellar dweller in the Big 10 for three straights seasons.
I told you this week Indiana would win and be back to relevance. I've been saying all year Tom Crean has built something special in Bloomington. I predicted 23 wins this year for this Hoosiers team and now that's looking too low. What makes this team special is many consider them a year early to the party.
Imagine next year with everybody except Verdell Jones III and Tom Pritchard coming back mixed with the No. 1 recruiting class.
Let's not day dream too soon, though. Lets put our attention of what's going on in Bloomington right now.
The win over Kentucky was the first time Indiana beat a No. 1 ranked team since 2002 when they beat Duke 74-73. It was also the sixth time Indiana beat a No. 1 in the history of the program.
Watford's shot though looked like it wouldn't even be needed most of the way through this game. Indiana was up by as many as 10 points most of the second half, but a dry shooting spell in the last three minutes brought Kentucky back to a one point deficit.
On a spin move in the lane that should have been a charge, freshman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist dunked in two of his 18 points to give Kentucky a one point lead inside the two minute mark left.
After exchanging leads within the last two minutes, Indiana was down 71-70 with 13.9 seconds left. Victor Oladipo tried to drive to the lane to give Indiana the lead, but the ball was stripped and Kentucky got the loose ball. Doron Lamb was fouled with 5.6 seconds left. Lamb is a 89 percent free throw shooter, so Indiana needed a prayer.
After Indiana used their final timeout, Lamb missed his first foul shot attempt. This gave Indiana hope. After Lamb made the second of two free throw attempts that gave Kentucky a 72-70 lead.
Watford in-bounded the ball to Verdell Jones III. Jones used a Cody Zeller screen near mid court and dribbled to the left side of the elbow in the lane. Watford was trailing wide open and Jones saw him and kicked it out for Watford to hit the shot that brought the sellout crowd of 17,472 into a frenzy.
It looked as if half of that crowd was on the court after the victory as well.
Watford's three was his fourth of the game and gave him a game high 20 points.
Sophomore Victor Oladipo had 13 points, while Jordan Hulls and Cody Zeller added 11 points a piece.
Will Sheehey was the only other Hoosier in double figures with 10 points off the bench, while Verdell Jones III was the sixth and only other Hoosier to score adding eight points himself.
Kentucky was led by Doron Lamb with 19 points.
Indiana did exactly what I said they needed to do to pull out this win.
Kentucky isn't a deep team and only rotates seven to eight players a game, and I said Indiana needed to get Kentucky into foul trouble early and force them to use this inexperienced bench. That's exactly what Indiana did.
Wildcat center Anthony Davis got two quick fouls and spent most of his time on the bench in the first half. The Hoosiers went to center Cody Zeller in the second half and that got Davis into even more foul trouble with picking up two more fouls. He once again went to the bench.
The other thing Indiana needed to do was allow Kentucky to get to the line instead of giving up easy shots due to Kentucky's horrid free throw shooting.
That's exactly what they did.
Kentucky was 10 for 17 on the game which is only 55 percent while Indiana was 14 for 17 and 82 percent.
Indiana also got their hands up on all Kentucky's three point shots as I said they needed to do. Kentucky can't shoot with hands in their faces and their 2-7—or 28 percent—three-point shooting performance showed.
The teams split the rebounding margin at 30 while Indiana turned the ball over 18 times to Kentucky's 17.
Indiana (9-0) now plays instate rival Notre Dame (7-4) next Saturday at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis at 4:30 P.M.. Indiana should win this game and win out the non-conference schedule as they open Big 10 play at home against Ohio State who lost yesterday as well on New Years Eve.
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