Northwestern Tops Indiana In Big Ten Tournament
March 11, 2010
INDIANAPOLIS- For 32 minutes it looked like the Indiana men's basketball team had picked up where it left off from last Saturday's meeting against Northwestern. IU scored the first eight points of the game and never trailed to that point, but Northwestern's Michael Thompson scored 11 of his 16 points during a key run Thursday, leading the Wildcats past Indiana 73-58 in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
"We had a stretch where we had a four point lead and then turnovers and empty possessions killed us," said IU Coach Tom Crean. "There were times I think our youth showed maybe in the sense we were tentative in our first postseason type of action here with probably half our team. But when we just were confident and attacked and got the ball into the middle against their press, we did some really good things."
Sophomore Verdell Jones III led IU with 20 points and freshman Derek Elston added 10 points and tied a career-high with nine rebounds. After building its early lead, Northwestern would tie the game at 20-20, but the Hoosiers led 30-27 at halftime.
The Hoosiers held the Wildcats to 11 percent shooting from three-point range in the first half (2 for 18) and extended their lead to 37-29 with 16:25 to go on a basket by Jeremiah Rivers.
Northwestern would tie the game at 45-45 and four free throws by Mike Capocci vaulted the lead to 49-45 and then Thompson would take over.
"I think when we go back and see the tape, they got some unchallenged points. There were a couple of rotations," Crean added. "We'd come out of the timeout and we played very tentative, our young guys played extremely tentative. It's to be expected to a degree when you're in the postseason like this, and you've got to go through it, and there's so many things. I'd like to have a dollar for every time I've said this season we have to go through it. But we do. We come out of a timeout, they run out of bounds, play one out, we're not alert to the ball, they get a layup."
End of Season Tidbits
The IU freshman class ended up scoring 1,027 of 2,053 points this season.
Jones III led the team in scoring at 14.9 points per game.
Freshman Christian Watford averaged 12.0 points per game and led the team in rebounding at 6.0 per game. He also led the team in blocked shots with 19.
Jones III and Watford started all 31 games.
Junior Jeremiah Rivers led the team with 106 assists and Jones III had 105. Rivers also led the team in steals with 41.
Seventh-seeded Northwestern (20-12) clinched its first 20-win season in school history and has a date with No. 6 Purdue in Friday's quarterfinals. The Boilermakers are the second seed after sharing the regular-season title with No. 5 Ohio State and No. 11 Michigan State.
It was the Wildcats' first conference tourney win since March 10, 2005.
Verdell Jones scored 20 points to lead Indiana (10-21), which lost 12 of its last 13 games. The Hoosiers also have five straight losses in Big Ten tourney play.
Indiana led for the first 32 minutes, but Thompson's flurry ignited a 20-5 run that turned a 45-39 Northwestern deficit into a 59-50 lead with 4:53 left and the Hoosiers never recovered.
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