Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, they fell apart down the stretch in an 81-62 loss to the Wildcats.
“If you are going to win, you got to be able to make shots,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “For most of this game, we did. And then in the end, we didn’t and they did. That was so much of the difference.”
After IU sophomore forward Christian Watford’s 3-pointer put the Hoosiers up 57-56 with 9:43 remaining in the game, his team did not make a field goal for more than nine minutes.
During that period, Kentucky (7-2) began an 8-0 run to put the Hoosiers behind for good. The Wildcats closed with a 25-5 stretch.
“It kind of went fast on us,” Watford said. “I look down, we were close and then all of a sudden they make a run. The game of basketball is all about runs, and we didn’t do anything to weather their storm.”
Watford paced IU (7-2) with 19 points, while both sophomore guard Jordan Hulls and freshman guard Victor Oladipo added 10 points.
The most telling stat was free throw attempts, in which Kentucky went to the line 28 more times than the Hoosiers.
“My stock line is that it’s part of the game,” Crean said. “It’s a hard fought game, there’s no question about that.”
IU junior guard Verdell Jones played sparingly on Saturday as he was hindered with an ankle injury. Jones limped off the court with 15:15 remaining in the second half and did not return.
IU senior guard Jeremiah Rivers, who filled in at the point guard spot for Jones much of the game, said the Hoosiers learned a lot about themselves against Kentucky.
“We know what we got to do to finish off games,” Rivers said. “We know we can play with the best of the best. I think really it came down to toughness mentally more than anything. That’s what we’ll take away from it.”
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