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'Wat' a finish

Junior forward's game-winning three-pointer stuns No. 1 Kentucky

POSTED AT 10:10 PM ON Dec. 10, 2011  (UPDATED AT 01:06 PM ON Dec. 11, 2011)

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Christian Watford couldn’t describe it. Victor Oladipo was speechless. Verdell
Jones III's ears were still ringing.

Fortunately for them, IU fans will be talking about this one for a long, long time.

After Kentucky guard Doron Lamb hit the second of two free throws to extend the
Wildcats lead to two, IU forward Christian Watford hit the game winning three-pointer as time expired to give IU (9-0) a 73-72 win against the No. 1 ranked Wildcats (8-1) on Saturday evening.

“I don’t even really know what happened, but all I know is I saw Verdell (Jones
III) driving and just tried to loop behind him, and he did a great job of finding me, and I knocked down the shot,” Watford said.

After IU was up by as many as 10 in the second half, Kentucky took a brief one-point lead with two minutes remaining.

The Hoosiers had a chance to regain a lead on the previous possession but turned
the ball over. Down 71-70, sophomore guard Victor Oladipo lost the ball in the lane and Lamb was fouled with five seconds to go.

Lamb came into the game shooting 89 percent from the line but after missing the
first free throw, IU took its final timeout.

Kentucky had a pair of fouls to give following Lamb making the second free
throw but did not foul on the final possession.

“We were going to foul them,” Kentucky Head Coach John Calipari said. “We had
two fouls to use. So, the whole timeout was about fouling. Marquis (Teague) tried to and they didn’t call it.”

Senior guard Verdell Jones III was guarded by Teague and brought the ball up on
the final play before finding Watford on the left wing.

The Birmingham, Ala., native scored a game-high 20 points and helped neutralize
Wildcats leading scorer Terrence Jones to four points and six turnovers.

Watford’s fourth three-pointer of the night brought a sea of red onto Branch
McCracken Court as the players and fans celebrated for the next 20 minutes.

“I haven’t felt anything like that,” Watford said. “That was probably the most
memorable moment of my life. It’s the biggest shot, definitely, of my career.”

The Wildcats headed into halftime on a 7-0 run which trimmed IU’s lead to 30-29
at halftime.

The win against Kentucky was the first against a No. 1 ranked team since IU beat
Duke 74-73 in the 2002 Sweet Sixteen.

It also comes on the heels of three straight losses to the Wildcats by an average of 18 points.

“This is the epitome, I think, of what Hoosier Nation is all about and the fans and
everybody that supports this program, from close and far, young and old,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “They deserve it because it’s one of those moments everybody is going to remember.”

The Hoosiers will have the week off from competition until they take on Notre
Dame (7-4) next Saturday in the Crossroads Classic at Conseco Fieldhouse in
Indianapolis.

 

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