____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>1. IndianaThe Hoosiers find themselves at the top of almost every preseason poll on the national level, and the same is true in the Big Ten. IU returns every player who scored against Kentucky in the 102-90 Sweet Sixteen loss. A nationally ranked recruiting class joins the five returning starters, and Tom Crean’s fifth season in Bloomington has the makings of a deep run into March Madness.2. MichiganAfter much speculation following the Wolverines’ opening-round loss to Ohio, freshman point guard Trey Burke will return to Ann Arbor next season. With Burke and sophomore guard Tim Hardaway Jr. on the perimeter, the Wolverines have one of the best starting backcourts in the nation. Despite a trio of players transferring in the offseason, Michigan has reloaded with an impressive recruiting class.3. Michigan stateTrying to replace Big Ten Player of the Year Draymond Green is no easy task, but Coach Tom Izzo has the résumé to keep the Spartans near the top of the conference. Gary Harris might be the most heralded freshman heading to the Big Ten next year and will join a backcourt of Keith Appling and Branden Dawson. However, one could say senior forward Derrick Nix hasn’t taken his new leadership role very seriously after being arrested earlier this month.4. WisconsinFor the normally squeaky-clean Badgers, it’s been an interesting offseason in Madison with the very public transfer of freshman Jarrod Uthoff. Wisconsin will also try to replace graduated point guard Jordan Taylor. The Badgers do return their other four starters and bring in five-star freshman Sam Dekker.5. Ohio StateThe Buckeyes brought in one of the highest-ranked recruiting classes in the nation last year but didn’t need its production in 2011-12. That class could emerge this fall with the departure of William Buford and Jared Sullinger. Sophomore forward Deshaun Thomas emerged during the NCAA Tournament, and he and point guard Aaron Craft will be counted on heavily if OSU wants to make another long NCAA Tournament run.6. MinnesotaMinnesota Coach Tubby Smith received some good news when the NCAA granted forward Trevor Mbakwe a sixth year of eligibility. It will be on Mbakwe’s shoulders to help put the Gophers in the NCAA Tournament. The Gophers return every regular except center Ralph Sampson III and will be led by NBA prospects Mbakwe and forward Rodney Williams.
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____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The IU basketball season ended two and a half weeks ago but the good news continues to roll into the program.Forwards Christian Watford and Cody Zeller announced on Tuesday that they will return for another season in Bloomington.Watford drew the most questions of the two players on whether or not he would forgo his final season to enter the NBA Draft.He ended his junior season with a 27-point effort against Kentucky in the Sweet Sixteen in route to making the NCAA South Regional All Tournament team.Now, Watford will carry that momentum into the off-season, as he will head into his senior season as the leading returning scorer in the Big Ten with 1,287 career points.“Christian really ended the season on a high note on the biggest stage and is building off that,” IU Coach Tom Crean said in a release from the athletic department. “He is going to have the opportunity to be a leader and have an even greater impact on the program and his game, but more importantly, he will earn his degree from IU.”Over Watford’s last four games this season he averaged 18.5 points per game while shooting 49 percent from the field.“I’m looking forward to the opportunity to complete my degree and to continue restoring the winning tradition at IU,” Watford said in the release. “I believe in Coach Crean and our staff and I am eager to lead my new teammates and build on what we started.”Zeller’s decision didn’t seem to garner the same attention as Watford even though many NBA mock drafts had the freshman going in the top ten.He returns to IU as the Hoosiers leading scorer (15.6) and rebounder (6.6) from last season and finished fourth in the nation shooting 62.3 percent from the floor.“Cody is a player who, along with his unique skillset, makes everyone around him better,” Crean said in the release. “He is going to have great opportunities ahead of him, yet his demeanor, work ethic and his desire to be a great teammate never wavers. He will have the opportunity to be as good as any player in college basketball.”Numerous media outlets have already placed IU as the No. 1 team heading into the 2012-2013 season and even Zeller has cracked the top of 2013 NBA mock drafts.All that hype will undoubtedly carry through the off-season but Hoosier fans can let out a sigh of relief knowing their top two returning scorers will be back in the cream and crimson next fall."I grew up hoping that one day I would get the opportunity to play in the NBA, but at this point, I’m not ready for my college experience to be over,” Zeller said in the release. “My college experience at IU this year has exceeded my expectations, on and off the court. I look forward to playing at Assembly Hall next year in front of the greatest fans in the country.”
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Will any freshmen crack the starting lineup?After returning just 32 points to the roster four years ago, IU will bring back all five starters and 85 percent of its starting lineup next season. Based off those numbers, the answer to this question would seem like a pretty obvious “No.” However, IU Coach Tom Crean is bringing in a top-five recruiting class with multiple players ranked in the top 50 by various news organizations. Unlike the past few seasons, the starting lineup remained relatively consistent throughout the season with the same five starting the final nine games of the season. Perhaps the most important factor regarding the freshmen class is if they can accept roles they might not have been used to in the past with an already established rotation.Can Jordan Hulls and Yogi Ferrell mesh on the court together?Ferrell, IU’s lone McDonald’s All-American, seems to be the most likely to start among the freshman class. He is coming off a near triple-double in the IHSAA 2A State Finals on Saturday and has been in the spotlight ever since being ranked the No. 1 fourth grader in the nation back in 2004.Hulls, a captain this season, is the unquestioned leader heading into the offseason, and it would be hard to imagine a starting lineup without the Bloomington native in it. A starting backcourt of Ferrell and Hulls would give the Hoosiers two very capable ball handlers and allow for either to play off the ball. Whether the two can play together will probably depend on if either of them can defend the shooting guard position.What is the status of Maurice Creek?It’s hard to believe it was more than two years ago that Creek scored a game-high 31 points against Kentucky during his freshman season. Injuries to each leg during the past two seasons have slowed his development. Creek is determined to make a recovery, and Crean has said repeatedly that he expects the junior guard to make a comeback. With the potential loss of senior guard Matt Roth, Creek could give IU another shooter, and if he can return to being a player close to the form of his freshman season, IU will add yet another weapon to an already potent offense.How will IU handle its scholarship situation? Perhaps the most important question heading into the off-season is how IU will lose one scholarship before next fall. IU over-signed by one player in the 2012 class and therefore has to have one player leave the program between now and the summer. It is hard to pinpoint one player as a possible transfer as everyone in the sophomore and junior classes played significant roles this season, and even freshman Remy Abell saw extended minutes late in the season. Flashback to 2008-09, when IU was scrambling to field a roster, and now the talent influx has put the coaching staff in a numbers crunch. Is IU the preseason favorite in the Big Ten next year?If forwards Christian Watford and Cody Zeller come back next season, one would expect IU to be near the top of the Big Ten next season. Michigan State, Ohio State and Wisconsin all will lose All-Big Ten First Team players. After capturing a share of the Big Ten Regular Season crown this year, Michigan would seem to be the favorite.However, the Wolverines had three players transfer this past week, and Co-Big Ten Freshman of the Year Trey Burke is considering turning pro. If Burke returns, the Wolverines will probably be the favorite thanks to a recruiting class that rivals that of Indiana. The Hoosiers made the climb from the basement of the Big Ten to fifth place this season, and one can expect another jump to the top next fall.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>What happenedThe Big Ten torch will be carried by the Ohio State Buckeyes this weekend in New Orleans. Overcoming major foul trouble in the first half, the Buckeyes outlasted Syracuse 77-70 to win the East Region and advance to their first Final Four since 2007. After dropping three of six games in February, Ohio State’s offense has flourished since, scoring at least 72 points in eight of nine games.What would have been if Kendall Marshall never suffered a season-ending wrist injury? That is the question on every North Carolina fan’s mind as the Tar Heels’ lack of point guard depth caught up to them Sunday against Kansas. The Jayhawks haven’t had a smooth ride to the Final Four, as they had to overcome second half deficits to double-digit seeds Purdue and North Carolina State.Player to WatchThe biggest question surrounding Ohio State forward Deshaun Thomas heading into college was what position he would play at the next level. Everyone knew he could score the ball (he is the third all-time leading scorer in IHSAA history), but no one was sure where he would fit in the Buckeyes lineup. He has taken off in March scoring a Tournament-high 89 points and shooting 36-of-68 (53 percent) from the floor. Thomas is also averaging just more than nine rebounds a game for the Tournament while sitting a total of three minutes in the Buckeyes’ past three games.PreviewJust like on the other side of the bracket, we have a rematch on our hands with Ohio State and Kansas. This one will look very different than the teams’ first meeting as Ohio State forward Jared Sullinger did not play Dec. 10. Kansas beat the Sullinger-less Buckeyes 78-67 in Lawrence, Kan. With Sullinger back in the lineup, two of the premier post players in the country will be matched up in this one. Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson has emerged in his first season as a starter and is a consensus top-five NBA Draft pick if he forgoes his final season. In the teams’ first meeting, Robinson had 21 points on 7-of-9 shooting, but now he will have to deal with a team, and a certain player, that is headed to the “Big Easy” for one reason. “We’re not going down to New Orleans for a vacation,” Sullinger said. “It’s a business trip.”
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>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."
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Inside of one of the most heated rivalries in the college basketball world, the leaders of Kentucky and Indiana have a deep friendship that makes it the polar opposite of some fans’ opinions of each other. John Calipari and Tom Crean both spent a handful of their coaching careers in Conference USA at Memphis and Marquette, respectively. The two have shared some playful Tweets with each other throughout the past year, and they will once again be on the same sideline tonight trying to take their programs back to places their fan bases are accustomed to. Calipari on coaching against a friend:“I don’t enjoy it, but during the game I’m just thinking of one thing — doing the best we can. Let’s win this. Let’s be at our best. I’m not worried about anything else. Then, when the game ends, you worry about it. If it’s me going down, I’ll be ecstatic for him. He’s a terrific coach who has done a great job. Look where he’s got his team. The games I’ve watched them play, they’ve played well.”Crean on his friendship with Calipari:“We’ve been friends for a long time. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. Even if I didn’t know him very well, I would put him up with anybody as far as a basketball coach.”Calipari: Massachusetts (8 years), Memphis (9 years), Kentucky (3 years)Coaching Length: 20 years Coaching Record: 539-153NCAA Tournament Appearances: 13NCAA Tournament Record: 32-13Final Fours: 3Conference Tournament Championships: 115-2 All-Time Record against CreanCrean: Marquette (9 years), Indiana (4 years)Coaching Length: 13Coaching Record: 245-170NCAA Tournament: 5-5NCAA Tournament Appearances: 6Final Fours: 1Conference Tournament Championships: 0
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>While junior forward Christian Watford’s shot is in the midst of being replayed again and again by various networks this week, here is a look at four key aspects from IU’s 73-72 victory against Kentucky on Dec. 10 that could very well come into play again this Friday.Anthony Davis’ foul troubleIt is no secret what Anthony Davis means to Kentucky with his presence on the court. Before he picked up his first foul at the 8:50 mark of the first half, the Wildcats led 16-12. He picked up his second foul just 37 seconds later and sat on the bench for the rest of the half. IU went on an 18-6 run after Davis’ first foul, stretching the lead to 30-22 with 2:31 left in the first half.Davis started the second half and helped Kentucky regain the lead 35-34 with 17:35 to play. He then committed his third foul during a Victor Oladipo offensive rebound, which sent him back to the bench and ignited an 11-0 IU run. His fourth and final foul came on a Verdell Jones III 3-pointer with 12 minutes remaining, and Davis sat for the next 5:32 as the Hoosiers maintained their lead throughout that stretch.Even though Davis’ stat line — six points and nine rebounds — was modest compared to most games, his mere presence on the court was enough to make a big difference. When Davis was playing, the Wildcats outscored the Hoosiers by 11 points. During his time on the bench, IU returned the favor, outscoring Kentucky by 12 points.Foul trouble doesn’t affect Davis often. Since the IU game, he hasn’t had a game of more than four fouls and has finished a game with three fouls just four times. Can IU involve Davis in ball screens and utilize freshman forward Cody Zeller’s ability to stretch the defense to pull the SEC Player of the Year away from the basket?Marquis Teague’s tale of two halvesHeading into the Dec. 10 meeting, Wildcats point guard Marquis Teague was routinely asked what it would be like returning to his home state to take on the Hoosiers. Nothing could prepare Teague for the atmosphere that took place in Assembly Hall, and it showed during the first half. In his first collegiate road game, Teague missed all five of his shot attempts and had three turnovers in 15 minutes. He missed several layups, and Coach John Calipari benched his point guard for the final 3:41 of the half. Teague didn’t start the second half and re-entered with Kentucky trailing 45-35 with 15:50 left. The Indianapolis native wasted no time asserting himself as he closed out the game, making all six of his shots, and was a perfect 3-of-3 from the foul line. Developing point guards has been Calipari’s forte during the past few years, and maybe Teague has turned the corner after coming off a career-high 24 points and seven assists in Kentucky’s 87-71 win against Iowa State on Saturday. Will the first-half or second-half Teague show up at the Georgia Dome this weekend?Verdell Jones III’s absence and point guard depthIt didn’t take long Saturday to see the ball-handling void the Hoosiers are experiencing without Jones in the lineup. The senior played 34 minutes against Kentucky, scoring eight points. He did have five turnovers against the Wildcats, but knocked down the first shot of each half for the Hoosiers and had the game-winning assist. In the team’s first meeting, senior Daniel Moore played five minutes off the bench, and senior Matt Roth and freshman Remy Abell did not see the floor.Roth and Moore have seen their minutes flip since that meeting, and it will be interesting to see how the Kentucky native Abell handles playing against his home-state school. Kentucky didn’t show much full-court pressure in the team’s first meeting, but fans will see if they do with the Hoosiers coming off a season-high 22 turnovers against Virginia Commonwealth University.Junior guard Jordan Hulls is coming off a visibly frustrating five-turnover performance, but he has a knack for stepping up on the biggest of stages. He gets another chance to prove that Friday.INDIANA’S 3-POINT SHOOTING The 9-of-15 (60 percent) 3-point shooting performance Dec. 10 was the second-highest percentage the Wildcats have allowed all season. At one point during the second half, the Hoosiers hit seven straight 3-pointers. In a night when IU scored just 24 points in the paint, compared to 50 by the Wildcats, the Hoosiers relied on three players knocking down the nine 3-pointers. Watford (4-of-6), Hulls (3-of-6) and Will Sheehey (2-2) accounted for the 27 points from behind the arc. The Hoosiers were 7-of-9 from 3-pointer land in the second half. Could Roth get lost in the defense like he has done so many times this year and provide a spark off the bench?
Basketball beat writer Kevin Bowen takes a look at the highlights from the East and Midwest regions of the NCAA Tournament.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>At the start of the college basketball season, 345 teams took the floor hoping to play deep into March.The field has been whittled down to 16 teams, and for the first time in a decade the Indiana Hoosiers are one of them.With victories against No. 13-seed New Mexico State and No. 12-seed Virginia Commonwealth University, the Hoosiers return to a place that has seemed so foreign to the IU basketball program in the past 15 years.“It’s hard to describe,” IU Coach Tom Crean said after the win against VCU. “But it’s a great feeling to be around young men like this, that they do really want to see each other be successful. They know they’re a team. So they’ve earned their way in.”The win against VCU was anything but easy for the Hoosiers, as IU had to overcome a season-high 22 turnovers and a nine-point second-half deficit.The Rams entered last year’s tournament as one of the last teams to get an at-large bid, but made the most of their opportunity.VCU won the play-in game, then knocked off Georgetown, Purdue, Florida State and Kansas to make its first Final Four in school history.Crean said he knew the task would be difficult Saturday evening in Portland, Ore., but he also felt his Hoosiers had similar winning qualities to the Rams. “We knew we were playing against a team that really cared about one another, and I think they’ll see that they were playing against a team, in our group, that really cares about one another,” Crean said. “When you’ve got that kind of togetherness, a lot of amazing things can happen. That’s what our year has been like, and that’s what this game was like.”Heading into the 2011 off-season, the Hoosiers’ season ended Thursday of the Big Ten Tournament for the third-straight year. Determined to not let this happen again, IU’s off-season struggles quickly turned into on-the-court success. The Hoosiers began to reap the benefits of their off-season work with wins against Sweet 16 teams North Carolina State and Kentucky before Big Ten season began. “It’s been a constant grind for us ever since the end of last year,” junior forward Christian Watford said. “We’ve been working hard, and we did a great job with adversity, and it feels great to be in this position.”It was Watford’s shot against Kentucky that will undoubtedly get played over and over again by ESPN this week in anticipation of the rematch Friday evening.On Saturday, it was Watford’s late 8-0 run to end the first half that brought IU back within one point at halftime.As the waning seconds ticked down against VCU, the ball would this time find the hands of sophomore forward Will Sheehey with the game on the line.Sheehey’s baseline jumper with 12.7 seconds left gave IU its first lead since the 19:20 mark of the second half, and it was the final lead change of the game.The berth into the Sweet 16 will be celebrated all week by Hoosier fans, but the IU players who took the court Saturday will remember it for their senior class and in particular their senior captain, guard Verdell Jones III, who couldn’t play.“We might do it a lot for the fans, but really it’s for our guys in this program,” Sheehey said. “We have seniors on the squad, Verdell, who can’t play with us, but we play for those guys, and they’ve been through it all.”The wins slowly grew from six in Crean’s first season in Bloomington to nine in his second and then 12 wins this past season.The Hoosiers doubled that win total Senior Night against Purdue, and for that five-man senior class, the wait has been well worth it in their swan song in Bloomington.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>PORTLAND, Ore — It has been a topic at virtually every IU basketball press conference since the 2010-2011 season ended. For IU to make the rise back into the top half of the Big Ten Conference and into the national landscape the Hoosier defense must improve. In a season that has seen its up and downs on that end of the floor, IU’s defense rose to the challenge in closing out No. 12 VCU to advance to its first Sweet 16 since 2002. IU allowed just two made field goals in the game’s final 12:13 while completing a nine-point comeback against No. 12 seed VCU with a 63-61 victory. “The magic words, We're always about the defense,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “(The players) just kept talking about defense and defense and defense. I think it showed up in the way that we finished the game, with the stops we had, the percentages of stops that we had in the last six or seven minutes.” Down 57-49 at the under-12-minute media timeout, IU was searching for answers in trying to stymie a VCU offense that had scored just 59 and 62 points respectively in its last two games. The Hoosiers preached all season long how defense turns into offense and that would have to the be the case if they wanted to see the tournament’s second weekend. “It was our mindset,” junior forward Christian Watford said of the need to get stops. “We knew what we had to do in order to win the game. We went out and executed that and it went from there.”During the next 5:32 the Hoosiers held VCU scoreless on 0-of-7 shooting while forcing four Rams turnovers. Throughout much of the game it was the Rams who turned IU over a season-high 22 times, but now it was the Hoosiers getting crucial stops beginning to cut into the VCU lead. After the game, Crean talked about the growth he has seen from his team on the defensive end of the floor in the past month. Even with two freshmen on the floor for much of the game’s final ten minutes, Crean said his team was comfortable playing defenses that maybe his youngest players weren’t fully experienced with yet. “We went into a 55, which is all switching,” Crean said. “Would we have done that with Cody in the game a month ago? Probably not. But you say, ‘you know what, you're a great basketball player, go out there and be a great athlete.’ And he was. "When you've got comfort with one another, and they're looking at Cody, and we haven't done a lot of switching with Cody, and Cody is in the game and they're saying ‘55,’ there's a lot of belief. You're trusting your teammate to help take care of it.”The Rams took a 61-56 lead with 2:27 to go on a jumper by guard Darius Theus but from there it was all Hoosiers as VCU missed several good opportunities to extend its lead.VCU Coach Shaka Smart alluded to the point that his team’s offense has been inconsistent all season long, but he also credited IU’s defense for his team scoring just 19 second-half points.“It comes down to being able to put the ball in the basket when you get certain opportunities,” Smart said. “I think we got some good looks I know we got some good looks that I certainly would take again.” One of those good looks came on the final possession as guard Rob Brandenberg’s last second three-pointer went helplessly bouncing off the iron.Asked what Crean was thinking in the game’s final 12 seconds, he went right back to what has been coming out of his players mouth ever since the fall.“Trust the defense,” Crean said. “It's a two-point game. We made the decision we were switching everything and we were going to live with it.”Now, the Hoosiers will live to see the Sweet 16 and a rematch with No. 1 Kentucky.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>Another game down to the wire and another Hoosiers victory.Sophomore forward Will Sheehey hit a baseline jumper with 12.3 seconds to go gave No.-4 seed IU a 63-61 victory over No.-12 seed VCU on Saturday evening. VCU had a final look with a wide open three from the left wing, but it went begging, and the Hoosiers advanced to their first Sweet Sixteen since 2002. The Hoosiers overcame a season-high 22 turnovers and held VCU to two field goals during the game’s final 10 minutes plus. Junior Christian Watford and freshman Cody Zeller each had 16 points to lead the Hoosiers. IU will play on Saturday in Atlanta against the winner of Kentucky/Iowa State.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>PORTLAND, Ore — Before any player on the IU basketball team thinks about a potential rematch with No. 1 Kentucky, a giant test awaits the No. 4-seeded Hoosiers.The Hoosiers' (26-8) sole focus Saturday evening will be on the Rams of Virginia Commonwealth (29-6), who are back it with their upset specials.After being the Cinderella story of the 2011 NCAA Tournament, the Rams knocked off No. 5 seed Wichita State 72-69 Thursday afternoon.The challenge of constant, full-court pressure is something that the Hoosiers haven’t seen much of this season.“Big Ten teams don't really press and stuff like that,” junior forward Christian Watford said. “Their length kind of reminds you of Kentucky the way they're long on length, but as far as pressure, we really haven't faced anybody like them.”The opportunity to play VCU came thanks to IU executing its two keys to the New Mexico State game nearly flawlessly as the Aggies shot just 10 free throws, which was nearly 20 under its season average.The Aggies came into the NCAA Tournament third in the nation in rebounding margin at 8.6 a game, but the Hoosiers held their own on the glass, only getting outrebounded by two.Those factors were two of the main reasons IU finds itself in position to advance to its first Sweet Sixteen since 2002.Now, the focus turns to the defensive pressure of the Rams and the ability for IU to handle it without one of its primary ball handlers in senior guard Verdell Jones III.Junior guard Jordan Hulls played 35 minutes on Thursday evening, his highest amount in 11 games.The main responsibility of handling the ball will rest on the Bloomington native, but he did get some help from freshman Remy Abell on Thursday.This time last year Abell was a foreign thought to Hoosiers fans but after Jones injury, Abell has played 15 and 17 minutes respectively in IU’s past two games. The task for the Hoosiers will be trying to break the Rams pressure that produced a nation-leading 10.7 steals per game.“We've just got to come in and work the ball, move the ball," Abell said. "We've just got to be ready to attack. We've got to be aggressive and I think if we do that, we'll be fine."On top of dealing with the Rams full-court defense, IU will be faced with another short turnaround.Late in the Big Ten schedule, the Hoosiers swept two games in three days by winning on the road against Minnesota on Feb. 26, then returning home to knock off No. 5 Michigan State a little more than 48 hours later.Both IU and VCU face the same challenge of short preparation, but IU Coach Tom Crean said assistant coach Tim Buckley already has a head start on scouting the Rams.Buckley watched the entire VCU/Wichita St. game from press row on Thursday evening and observed the Rams pressure forcing seven turnovers and holding the Shockers to 11-of-35 shooting in the first half.“We've just spent a lot of time watching segments of how they played,” Crean said. “We've spent a lot of time trying to really understand their pressure, to understand the things that are not as normal for our guys of what they've seen. The rematch with Kentucky will be put on hold for at least another few hours as the Hoosiers are locked in against a team that is 5-1 in its last six NCAA Tournament games.The nervous energy causing a few early turnovers Thursday evening is long gone now. Now, it’s time to make a run to the second weekend.“It's like once you get into the game and the ball is thrown up and you are with your teammates, the nervousness and the pressure kind of goes away,” sophomore guard Victor Oladipo said. “Now that we have a game under our belt, there's no really reason to be feeling any pressure or feeling any anxiousness. It's just time to play basketball now."
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>PORTLAND, Ore. — The four-year wait of getting back to the NCAA Tournament for the IU basketball team ended Sunday.The Hoosiers only had to wait four days to get their first NCAA tournament win since 2007.Thanks to a fast-paced game that played right into the hands of Indiana, the No. 4 seed Hoosiers beat No. 13 seed New Mexico State 79-66 at the Rose Garden in Portland.Any fear of playing on the game’s biggest stage was quickly put to rest as IU (26-8) jumped out to a 14-4 lead less than five minutes into the game, and forced 13 turnovers in the first half.A seven-point halftime lead reached as many as 21 points in the second half as the Hoosiers cruised into Saturday’s third round match-up with No. 12 seed VCU.“For a team that had not been in this environment, had not been in this type of arena, I don’t mean the Rose Garden but the NCAA Tournament arena, they handled it very, very well,” Crean said. Junior guard Jordan Hulls lead all scorers with 22 points including three three-pointers in a 2:13 stretch in the second half.“I was just getting open looks from my teammates, coming off ball screens,” Hulls said. “I hit the first shot and so then it started feeling a little bit better once it started leaving my hand and I was able to knock down some shots.”The Hoosiers had four players in double figures with junior Christian Watford, sophomore Will Sheehey and freshman Cody Zeller each adding 14 points. Heading into Thursday night’s game, IU Coach Tom Crean preached the importance of keeping the Aggies (26-10) off the offensive glass and away from the foul line.The Aggies shot almost 300 more free throws than anyone else in the Western Athletic Conference this season and finished the year third in the nation in rebounding margin.NMSU did not get into the bonus in either half and finished the game with just a 22-21 edge in rebounds, six below the Aggies season average. “I thought we had great verticality in the post,” Crean said of his players staying out of foul trouble. “Our whole thing was attack on offense, have verticality on defense, and block out like crazy."In defending the WAC’s leading scorer and rebounder Wendell McKines, the Hoosiers talked on Wednesday how they needed to limit his touches.The Aggies star had just 10 shot attempts Thursday evening compared to the past 10 games where McKines had attempted at least 15 shots in every contest.“He said some things in a press conference earlier that were a little questionable, so we took it upon ourselves to make sure he didn’t get those touches,” Sheehey said. IU’s attention now turns to Saturday as the Hoosiers will look to advance to their first Sweet Sixteen since 2002.Standing in IU’s way will be the Rams of VCU (29-6), the darlings of last year’s tournament. The Rams knocked off No. 5 seed Wichita State 62-59 on Thursday evening thanks to a full court press that wrecked havoc for the higher seeded Shockers.“VCU's full court pressure is the real deal,” Crean said. “That's probably not something we see on a nightly basis in the Big Ten. We've seen it. But that will be the biggest adjustment we'll have to make in a short period of time outside of us learning their sets and their concepts and things like that."
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>PORTLAND, ORE. — This Cinderella certainly isn't shy.As the No. 13-seed New Mexico State Aggies (26-9) head into Thursday night’s NCAA Tournament matchup at the Rose Garden against the No. 4-seed Indiana Hoosiers (25-8), the team from Las Cruces, N.M., isn’t lacking any confidence.To the average onlooker the brashness might come off as a little too much but this is how the Aggies carry themselves, following their leader.“I don't have a swagger, I have an aura about me, you can just feel the energy,” senior forward Wendell McKines said.Sitting at the podium Wednesday evening with the tattoo of his ‘510’ area code glistening from his neck, McKines had the room on edge with his quick wit and straight-laced answers. He has some game on the court to go off with his humor off it. McKines was the Western Athletic Conference’s leading scorer (18.8 PPG) and rebounder (10.8 RPG) this past season.At 6-foot-6-inch and 230 pounds, McKines does most of his damage around the rim and is making the most of his fifth season. A foot injury during preseason practice last fall sidelined McKines for the entire 2010-2011 season, and he had to watch from the sidelines as his Aggies could not make a return trip to the NCAA Tournament. The final season for McKines in Las Cruces hasn’t been without its fair share of bumps along the way as Christian Kabongo, the Aggies second-leading scorer, transferred just before the start of the conference season. With the "aura" of McKines, the Aggies three senior starters have them back on the same stage they were in 2010 when then No. 12 seed NMSU lost to No. 5 seed Michigan State 70-67. “It's been a roller coaster,” senior point guard Hernst Laroche said. “We won some big games, and then we lost some. But I think we're playing good right now.” The Aggies have won nine of their past 10 games including winning all three WAC Tournament games by double figures. Now as NMSU heads back to the tournament, it faces an Indiana team that has exceeded preseason expectations. The Hoosiers bring with them a resume of three top-five wins in 2011-2012, but come tournament time the records are thrown out the window. “It's going to come down to 40 minutes,” Laroche said. “We're not worried about the name on their jerseys. We're just going to play hard.” Any fear the Aggies might have heading into Thursday night was quickly squashed by their outspoken leader. “Teams that are intimidated and infatuated by playing bigger name schools, those are the teams that lose by 40,” McKines said The confidence won’t be lost on the Aggies bench but the respect for the Hoosiers is evident. Both teams come into the NCAA Tournament leading their respective conferences in points per game, and the Aggies know the Hoosiers want to get out in the open floor. “They're pretty good in transition,” McKines said. “Zeller, he runs the floor like a deer, so our centers have to be prepared to run the floor. The 3-point line, as well.” NMSU has only played one team from a "BCS: conference this season, and NMSU Coach Marvin Menzies admitted a player of Zeller’s caliber isn’t seen very often by his Aggies. “I can't think of anybody off the top of my head that we've gone up against this year that has Cody's height that runs as well as he does,” Menzies said. While Zeller will be atop of the Aggies scouting report, IU Soach Tom Crean made it clear that McKines is the focal point for the Hoosiers defense. Each year the NCAA Tournament paves the way for stories of players that don’t get the same national notoriety as others during the regular season. If it were up to McKines’ coach, the spotlight in March would be on the first-ever recruit he signed at NMSU. “Wendell is a special person and player, obviously you guys got a chance to visit with him for a few moments,” Menzies said. “Imagine spending five years with him. I've had a lot of laughs with that kid.“We've got a very special bond. I'm going to miss him a lot. So I'm hoping to keep him around a few more days and weeks, hopefully.”
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>For the second straight meeting, IU shut down Wisconsin’s All-Big Ten guard Jordan Taylor, but once again the Hoosiers let a Badgers bench player go off. Wisconsin guard Rob Wilson came into Friday’s Big Ten Quarterfinal having scored in double figures just once this season when he had 11 points against Iowa.Wilson did more than eclipse that mark with a career-high 30 points in leading No. 12/14 Wisconsin (24-8) to a 79-71 victory against No. 15 Indiana (25-8).“Needless to say we had a player that was in a zone and his teammates found him,” Wisconsin Coach Bo Ryan said. “Rob Wilson was the story of the game as far as our offensive end goes.”Just like the Hoosiers did Jan. 26 in Madison, Wis., IU held Jordan Taylor in check as the senior battled foul trouble all afternoon in shooting 3-of-12 from the field.Without the usual production from Taylor, it was Wilson who provided the needed lift in the scoring department.“It was definitely huge for Rob to step up like that,” Taylor said. “That’s what Coach talks about a lot, when a teammate’s down you’ve got to pick it up. I think everybody really buys into that.”Ryan put Wilson in the came at the 16:19 mark of the first half and he would play a total of 32 minutes off the bench including the last 17 minutes of the game.As the Badgers tried to stave off multiple runs by IU in the second half, it was Wilson who hit timely 3-pointers.IU cut the lead to 42-41 with 15:40 to go in the second half before Wilson hit three straight 3-point field goals.Looking to make one last stop with less than a minute to go, Wilson’s 3-pointer from the right wing was the dagger stretching the Wisconsin lead to 72-65.“The weight of the ball felt like it was going in today,” Wilson said. “I don’t remember that feeling.”During Wilson’s junior season, he scored just 36 points in 23 games, and he almost equaled that mark Friday afternoon.The senior guard had been playing better of late as he was averaging eight points per game during his last four, which is more than double his season average.“It’s something that he’s been doing here recently now and I’m just happy for him,” Taylor said of Wilson’s output. “I’m so happy for him that it almost feels like I had 30.”The 7-of-10 performance from behind the 3-point arch equals the amount of threes Wilson had made during the past five games combined.“As we told our team, (Wilson) was the most improved player on their team since the first time we played them,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “He had really brought a different dose of energy when he was in the game.”Wilson’s career-high before Friday was 13 points in his sophomore seaso,n and he had only scored in double figures three times in his four seasons at Wisconsin.In looking for its first Big Ten Semifinal appearance since 2006, IU’s comeback attempt was halted by the Badgers unsung hero.“We had some guys play very well and they had guys play really well," Crean said. “The difference though was Rob Wilson played tremendous.”
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>A career-high effort by Wisconsin’s sixth man ended IU’s run at the Big Ten Tournament on Friday afternoon.Rob Wilson scored a career-high 30 points as he led No. 12/14 Wisconsin (24-8) to a 79-71 victory against No. 15 Indiana (25-8).The Hoosiers had no answer in defending Wilson, who hit a career-high 7-of-10 3-pointers.After leading briefly in the game’s opening minutes, IU never led the rest of the way.Junior forward Christian Watford had his second straight double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds.The Hoosiers will now await their fate in deciding where they will be headed for the NCAA Tournament on Sunday.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>The IU basketball team earned its first win in postseason play with IU Coach Tom Crean on Thursday, but that win might be overshadowed by a potential loss.Senior guard Verdell Jones III left the game with 5:48 remaining in the first half after he went to the floor, grasping his right knee.The injury overshadowed No. 15 IU (25-7) ending a six-game Big Ten Tournament losing streak thanks to a 75-58 victory against Penn State (12-20) at Bankers Life FieldHouse in Indianapolis. An IU spokesperson said Jones suffered a sprained right knee.“He’s being evaluated now,” Crean said. “I was hopeful that when he went down it wasn’t as significant, but I’m going to keep holding out that hope, but I don’t obviously feel good about that.”The injury came on a noncontact play as Jones lead an IU fast break and made a jump stop before falling to the ground in pain.“You want to win, which we did,” Crean said. “You want to play well, but you want to do it with your whole team, and we didn’t get that opportunity today. But these guys did an excellent job of playing through it, playing composed.”How long Jones will be out remains to be seen, but Thursday, the team showed the resolve it needed without its senior captain.IU led 24-21 when Jones headed to the locker room and went on a quick 7-0 run to take its first double-digit lead of the game.“Verdell has put so much into this program, so we knew when we saw him go down and out of the game, we had to step up for him,” junior guard Jordan Hulls said. Hulls and freshman forward Cody Zeller scored the team’s first 22 points Thursday, with Hulls leading the way with a team-high 20 points.Just like they did during the team’s past meeting in Bloomington, the Nittany Lions hung around in the first half and were only down 38-32 at halftime.After the teams traded baskets to start the second half, IU went on a 14-0 run and broke open a lead that would never be less than 14 points the rest of the way.“I think our defense picked up in that period,” Zeller said. “Our defense kind of led into our offense. That’s when we’re most successful, when we are defending and rebounding.”The Hoosiers had three players with 10 rebounds apiece and outrebounded the Nittany Lions 45-29.For the first time this season, both Zeller and junior forward Christian Watford had a double-double.Sophomore guard Victor Oladipo made it three players in double-figure rebounds for the Hoosiers with a career-high 10 boards.“I think the fact that we had three guys in double figures says a lot about the tenacity our guys played with,” Crean said.Oladipo was one of many defenders IU threw at the Big Ten’s second-leading scorer, Tim Frazier.Not only does Frazier lead the Big Ten in minutes played, but he also leads the conference in assists per game.After he scored 19 points in the first half, the Hoosiers slowed the All-Big Ten First Team performer to a 2-of-10 effort in the second half.“We just tried to take away a lot of his catches, make things difficult for him and get him out of his rhythm,” Watford said. With the win, the Hoosiers achieved their first Big Ten Tournament victory since 2006 and will now turn their attention to a Friday afternoon quarterfinal matchup with the Wisconsin Badgers.The past three seasons, the Hoosiers have seen their season end Thursday of the Big Ten Tournament, but now they will get a chance to avenge a loss from earlier this season in trying to make it to the weekend.“It’s been a long time coming, so we’re going to enjoy this, but we know we’ve got to get ready for Wisconsin next,” Watford said.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>One by one, the “First Five” took the microphone to reminisce about one of the most trying four-year stretches any IU basketball player has ever endured.The five IU seniors each took his turn talking to the nearly full Assembly Hall following an 85-74 win against Purdue (21-11, 10-8).After the win, the No. 18/20 Hoosiers (24-7, 11-7) returned to the court as the five seniors and their families were honored with a highlight video and framed jerseys.The speeches were made even sweeter for the players and fans as the Hoosiers have now won seven of their last eight games, including a sweep against their neighbors up north.“I remember actually doing an interview in the summer and being asked, ‘If you had one team you want to play on senior night, who would it be? And I said, ‘Purdue,’” senior guard Verdell Jones III said. “This rivalry often gets overlooked because of the North Carolina/Duke rivalry, but I think it’s the best rivalry in college basketball.”During IU’s 49-point first half Sunday, the Hoosiers had major production from a pair of senior bench players.Jones III had seven points in 21 minutes, including a pair of steals and blocks against the Boilers.Senior guard Matt Roth knocked down all three 3-point attempts in the first half, as his nine points were the most he has had at home during the Big Ten this season.“I thought our seniors did an excellent job of impacting the game,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “It’s a fitting day for these guys, to have a win like this, to beat a rival like this, to beat a team that was arguably playing as well as anyone the last couple of weeks.”Fellow senior Tom Pritchard jumped into the scoring mix with a hook shot late in the second half to give IU a 73-61 lead.Pritchard and Roth honored their commitment from former IU Coach Kelvin Sampson to Crean and wanted to thank their classmates for sticking with the program during the early struggles.“The senior class has stayed with us,” Pritchard said. “We have all matured and we have just given them something this year, the team has, that they are always going to remember and be a part of.”After suffering through three straight 20-loss seasons, the seniors will now head into post-season play with a résumé that includes three wins against top-five teams in 2011-12.“They’ve been through a whole bunch, ups and downs, going from six wins freshman year to 24 wins right now,” junior guard Jordan Hulls said. “It’s just a great tribute to those guys, sticking to it when it was really rough on them with all the losses.”Selection Sunday is now less than a week away, and with IU likely to be chosen, this senior class now extends the streak to every four-year player in Hoosiers history to have played in the NCAA Tournament since 1973.With 22 seconds remaining, Crean heard the chants of “we want seniors” from the student section and delivered by putting all five on the floor to end the game.“That’s a special feeling and something I will remember, us five just walking off together beating a rival in front of a sold-out crowd,” Jones said.
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>He might be the only non-scholarship senior on the roster, but for IU fans, the roar when Kory Barnett enters the game is that of a victorious cheer.Those cheers were a rare occurrence during Barnett’s first three years in Bloomington, as the Hoosiers were in the midst of 20-loss season after 20-loss season.Before 2008, IU had never had a season with more than 17 losses, but that quickly changed when sanctions hit the program like it had never been hit before.Barnett was right in the middle of it, having turned down mid-major offers to become a preferred walk-on for then-IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.He was to head to Bloomington in summer 2008 and play on a team that was expected to get IU back among the talks of the nation’s best.As he prepares for his final game at Assembly Hall, Barnett has finally experienced historical wins and a season rivaling that of any past Hoosier team.“Honestly, with the past, I didn’t know that we would ever get to see it,” Barnett said. “I always wanted to, and we worked so hard that I hoped we would.”Growing up in Oregon, Barnett wasn’t the typical passionate Indiana kid who dreamed of putting on the candy stripes.His father, Mike, worked for Nike, so Barnett had the chance to meet and know numerous college coaches.Current New Mexico Coach Steve Alford was Barnett’s favorite. Barnett wanted to become a college basketball coach.After moving to northern Indiana, Barnett attended Rochester High School, where the program had 23 straight losing seasons.Barnett then graduated as the winningest player in school history.The next step was to take those winning ways to IU.Despite the turmoil beginning to spread across Bloomington in 2008, Barnett said he never wavered about his commitment.Once IU Coach Tom Crean accepted the job in April 2008, everything began to fall into place.Crean hired former Iowa Assistant Coach Tim Buckley, whom the Barnetts were familiar from Buckley’s time on Alford’s staff.“The moment (Crean and Buckley) got the job, they called and said they wanted to keep him here as a promised walk-on spot,” Mike Barnett said. “They would give him a great opportunity to be a (graduate assistant) if he did a good job.”The wins were scarce during Barnett’s first couple of seasons in Bloomington, with victories against Big Ten cellar-dwellers becoming the highlights of the seasons.“Back then, people were like, ‘What’s the big deal to get one more win in a season of six,’ but it was a big deal to us because it taught us something about winning that’s kind of overflowed into this season,” Barnett said.As his career has turned into a 20-plus-win senior season, Barnett has adopted a nickname given to him by his followers on Twitter.The “Human Victory Cigar” has played in 14 games this season, and 13 of those have been wins, giving the feeling that when Barnett heads to the scorer’s table, good things are happening for the Hoosiers.Fellow senior Verdell Jones III said he and Barnett weren’t close friends as freshmen coming from rival AAU teams but have become the “best of friends.”Jones said he will be in Barnett’s wedding in August and wants IU fans to know that even though Barnett doesn’t log major minutes, his role is invaluable.“He’s a guy behind the scenes that does a lot,” Jones said. “He’s like a coach, really, on the team. That’s what he wants to get into, and he’s been really working on that. He will come up to me and (junior guard) Jordan (Hulls) and tells us things he sees, which are right on point.”Since Barnett is the oldest player on the IU roster, the younger players look to him during practice and timeout for little nuances and tidbits that he is more than happy to pass along to his “family.”“I never had a brother, but being a part of this program with these guys, I know what it’s really like to have brothers,” Barnett said. “I’m getting married in August, and I want every single one of them at my wedding because it’s been something special that this team will never forget.”For now, Barnett sits at the end of the bench, but it is only a matter of time before he slides down a few seats into a coaching role.Barnett said that, after the season, he will sit down with Crean and talk about the possibility of beginning his coaching career right where he played his college ball.“There is no other program like Indiana, so to be able to stay here and grow here has been amazing,” Barnett said. “I hope my coaching career can take off fast and end up in a way such like Coach Crean or Coach Alford’s.”He has known what he wanted to do after college since a young age, and now, he said, he is more prepared than ever for life in a suit and deal with the ability to build — or re-build — a program.“I talked to Coach Buckley about that a little bit, and he said as far as me being a coach in the future, my experiences through here, I’ve been through the toughest boot camp there is,” Barnett said. “There’s nothing that I’ll see after this that I haven’t gone through here.”
____simple_html_dom__voku__html_wrapper____>For the third time this season, a top-five ranked team walked into Assembly Hall, and for the third straight game, they walked out with a loss.Unlike the first two times, however, there was little doubt down the stretch Tuesday evening.Thanks to another balanced performance of five IU players in double figures, the No. 18/20 Hoosiers (23-7, 10-7) knocked off No. 5 Michigan State (24-6, 13-4) 70-55.In going against the third-best rebounding team in the nation, the Hoosiers more than held their own, winning the battle 31-30 and outscoring the Spartans 13-0 in second-chance points.“Coming into the game, we knew we had to win the rebounding game to win the game overall, and I think all of us took that to heart,” freshman forward Cody Zeller said. “Anywhere from me and Christian (Watford) to the guards were getting in there, getting rebounds, so it was a full team effort on the glass.” The Hoosiers were able to build a 14-point halftime lead behind 11 first-half points from sophomore guard Victor Oladipo.The Big Ten Champion Spartans made numerous runs in the second half, but every time, the Hoosiers had an answer.“We just kept attacking,” Watford said. “We didn’t go into a stall type of basketball. We just wanted to keep our foot down on the pedal and do what we do, get the ball inside and get to the foul line.”The closest Michigan State would get in the second half was six points as, once again, IU executed the plays in the closing minutes.Down the stretch, IU scored baskets from a variety of players and turned to its leading scorer twice when the Spartans cut the lead to six.After scoring a season low four points in IU’s 80-65 loss to the Spartans on Dec. 28, 2011, Zeller bounced back and led the way with 18 points.“I learned a lot since the first game of the Big Ten,” Zeller said. “We watched film from the game before, and I just tried to pick up on little things here and there.”In that meeting in East Lansing, Mich., IU only made it to the free throw line nine times as the Spartans gave IU its first loss of the season.Getting to the line was the key to the first half for the Hoosiers, as both teams made 11 field goals, but IU outscored the Spartans by 14 from the foul line.The Spartans not only top the league standings but lead the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense and rebounding.“As we kept saying today, ‘It’s not hit or be hit. It’s hit or be out,’ and this is a game where you’ve got to be in the mix because they set the tone and standard for toughness in our league and in the country,” IU Coach Tom Crean said.The three wins against top-five teams marks the first time in school history that an IU team has accomplished such a feat in the regular season.“They’re living proof of what happens when you persevere, you deal with adversity, and you lock yourself in the gym and just get better,” Crean said.With this latest win against a top-five team, IU will seek to improve its NCAA Tournament seeding on Senior Day this Sunday when Purdue heads to Assembly Hall.“When we beat top teams like that, we are nasty, we’re scrappy, we’re fighting,” senior guard Verdell Jones III said. “We haven’t won anything in the postseason, so we have to have that nasty attitude with every team we play.“There’s no better time to get hot than right now to end the season going into the postseason.”