Hoosiers use 16-point comeback to beat Fighting Irish in Crossroads Classic


Senior guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell celebrates with his teammates after scoring during IU’s game against Eastern Illinois on Friday at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers won 88-49. James Benedict and James Benedict Buy Photos

Yogi Ferrell was looking up to his teammate, sophomore guard Robert Johnson, while nodding his head and slapping the side of Johnson's. 

The Hoosiers were up six points with 18 seconds remaining and junior forward Troy Willaims was going to the line for two free throws to ice the game.

Williams made one of two and Notre Dame missed a three pointer to end an 80-73 win Saturday in the Crossroads Classic, despite the Hoosiers trailing by as many as 16 points in the second half.

“Guys like Yogi and Troy, they just brought us together,” Johnson said. “Basically we took their lead and came together and did the things we needed to do to be able to get the win.”

The Hoosiers ended the game on a 40-17 run, the largest comeback since IU Coach Tom Crean started coaching at IU. But the comeback didn’t come easy.

There were many times Saturday where it looked like the momentum was turning, before Notre Dame quieted the Hoosier-dominated crowd in the second half.

Players like sophomore forward Bonzie Colson kept hurting the Hoosiers inside. Colson finished with 24 points, a career high, despite averaging nine points a game this season.

With 14 minutes left in the game, sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. hit a three pointer to cut the lead to 10 points. On IU’s next possession, freshman center Thomas Bryant went up for a shot and was fouled hard by Colson. Bryant went down hard and Colson was called for a flagrant foul.

Bryant made both free throws and the crowd rose to its feet at the urging of strength and conditioning coach Lyonel Anderson.

But that was followed by Blackmon Jr. turning the subsequent inbounds pass over, resulting in a Notre Dame three pointer. The next possession Ferrell turned the ball over, which led to a wide-open Notre Dame dunk.

Then there was senior guard Nick Zeisloft’s three pointer with nine minutes left to cut the lead to five points, But still, IU couldn’t break through. Notre Dame was doing just enough to stay in front.

Eventually though, the Hoosiers fought back — in large part thanks to a player earning arguably the most significant minutes of his career.

After Zeisloft missed a three pointer with six minutes left in the game, freshman forward O.G. Anunoby got the offensive rebound.

He passed the ball back out, where Williams missed a three pointer. Anunoby got the offensive rebound again, but this time went right back up and dunked the ball to bring the game within five points.

“That sparked us," Williams said. "That should be the play of the game right there.”

A minute after that rebound, Ferrell made a three pointer in transition to tie the game – the first time the Hoosiers hadn’t trailed since the game was seven minutes old.

After Anunoby’s dunk, Notre Dame scored two points in the last five and a half minutes while missing 10 field goals and two free throws.

A large reason for the shooting change was a shift in defense. IU wasn’t doubling Notre Dame’s players in the post, and as a result, the Irish were scoring at will. Then the Hoosiers started doubling and daring a Notre Dame team who excels at shooting three pointers to do just that.

The Irish finished the game 28 percent from behind the arc.

“Our players did a good job of responding to their strengths and playing through it," Crean said. "We were the victor and we’re very proud of the win because I know we beat a really, really good team.”

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