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Tuesday, Feb. 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Hoosiers' season ends with Sweet 16 loss in rematch with Kentucky, 102-90

IU v UK

ATLANTA — This time, lighting didn’t strike twice.

In the rematch that lived up to the hype, it was No. 1 Kentucky who overcame early foul trouble on Saturday evening to end IU’s storybook season.

The Hoosiers' foul trouble caught up to them in the second half and Kentucky made 35-of-37 free throws in route to a 102-90 victory to advance to the Elite Eight.

IU made five more field goals than Kentucky but similar to the first meeting, this one was decided at the charity stripe with the Wildcats converting when it mattered most.

“I couldn't imagine a game like this having a free-throw discrepancy of 20,” Crean said. “It is what it is. They shot 20 more free throws. That's the game.”

Back on Dec. 10, 2011, the Hoosiers were able to get National Defensive Player of the Year Anthony Davis into foul trouble as he sat the final 12 minutes of the first half.

Despite not having registered more than three fouls all season since the team’s first meeting, Davis once again found himself on the bench Friday night as he was limited to six minutes in the first half after picking up two quick fouls.

The game plan for IU was evident early and the Hoosiers executed by taking it right at the consensus No. 1 pick in June’s NBA Draft.

“We came in to attack, there's no question about it,” Crean said. “We came in to hopefully get into their bench, and we did a little bit.”

While the Hoosiers did force Kentucky to use its depth, it was IU that also suffered from foul trouble all night.

With junior Jordan Hulls, sophomore Victor Oladipo and freshman Cody Zeller all sitting with two fouls for significant stretches in the first half, the brunt of the scoring was on the hero of the first game between these two teams.

Like he has done so many times for IU this season, Watford came up biggest in the team’s marquee games.

He paced the Hoosiers with 17 first-half points while routinely hitting challenged shots.

“My teammates did a great job of finding me,” Watford said. “It was a movement game out there tonight. We had some great ball reversals, and it kind of got me going.”

The fast-paced first half ended with Kentucky leading 50-47 and both teams would start the second half with three starters having two fouls apiece.

Out of halftime the attacking nature of the Wildcats took over as not only did Davis not pick up another foul the rest of the game, but Kentucky was able to get into the bonus by the 13:11 mark of the second half.

“They got in the bonus pretty early, and that really helped them out pretty well,” Zeller said. “Once they got there, they were knocking them down.”

Kentucky maintained a multiple possession lead throughout the better part of the second half and the seven straight 3-pointers IU made in the team’s first meeting were nowhere to be found on Friday.

In trying to make a last ditch comeback attempt, the Hoosiers cut the lead to 82-77 with 5:14 to play, but on the next possession Oladipo, who was 6-of-8 on the night, fouled out.

The Wildcats would not look back as they made their final 17 free throws to set an NCAA Tournament record in shooting 94 percent from the foul line while shooting more than 30 free throws.

Watford led all scorers with 27 points and Zeller added 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting.

As Crean sat down at the podium for the postgame press conference the usually verbose coach needed some time to put into context the Hoosiers final game of the season.

“I'm not sure what to say,” Crean said. “I'm proud of my players, I know that. I'm sure (Kentucky Coach) John (Calipari) is as well. That was a hard-fought battle.”

The energy in the Georgia Dome began well before tip off as a sea of blue and crimson made up most of the 24,731 in attendance.

They were treated to the highest scoring game in the NCAA Tournament this season as both teams finished with five players in double figures.

Now the Hoosiers will head into the off-season at a much later date than they have the past three seasons.

The 15-win improvement from last year is the most among major conference teams and their coach could not have been prouder of their effort against the nation’s No. 1 team.

“The Indiana men — and I mean quote me — the Indiana men, mighty men, as I've learned from my brother-in-laws and the way they describe their players — the Indiana mighty men, they gave it all," Crean said. "They left it all on that court."

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