Nov. 30, 2011
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RALEIGH, N.C. - Junior Jordan Hulls led four Hoosiers in double-digit points as the Indiana men's basketball team overcame a seven-point deficit to win, 86-75, at NC State, helping the Big Ten clinch its third consecutive Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Hulls, who ended up with 20 points, hit a momentum changing 3-pointer in the final two minutes of the game that sent the Hoosiers to a 7-0 start to the season. Freshman Cody Zeller added 19 points and nine rebounds, while junior Christian Watford tallied 16 points and nine rebounds in the win. Sophomore Victor Oladipo also reached double-digit points with 11 to keep the Hoosiers perfect on the road.
"All Hoosier fans should feel really, really good and feel a part of this one because they have stayed with us as we tried to get ourselves to the point where we can come and win a game like this on the road," said head coach Tom Crean. "Now we've done it and I wish we could just give everyone a big hug and tell them thank you and we'll see them Sunday. We need a packed house for the '87 team coming back."
Indiana jumped out to a 22-11 lead in the first five minutes only to see NC State (5-2) use a 9-0 run to cut the Hoosiers' lead to two, 25-23, with 10:19 to go in the first half. IU answered on a jumper from Watford and regained a five-point edge, but the Wolfpack came back and outscored IU, 13-7, in the final 6:39 of the half to take a 42-41 lead into the break.
The Hoosiers came out firing with a 3 from Watford and a layup from Zeller to regain a 46-42 lead with 18:59 on the clock. However, NC State answered and the two teams fought point-for-point until a pair of free throws from Lorenzo Brown sparked a 7-0 run to give the Wolfpack it's largest lead of the game, 63-56. But that's when Indiana dug in and tightened up on defense, while using the free throw line to climb back in and tie it up at 68-68 on a tip-in from Zeller on a missed layup from Oladipo at the 4:19 mark. A 3-pointer from Watford at the 3:58 mark gave the Hoosiers the lead and a 3 from Hulls inside the final two minutes sealed the win.
"This team - they lock in," said Crean. "They are concentrating, they are focusing and they adjust. Jordan was a key part of that. There's no one part of the game that you can look at and say, `okay if we just do this, we'll be fine.' You have to do all of it. And tonight through 40 minutes, we didn't do all of it through all 40, but we did all of it throughout the 40. When it was time to put it away, we put it all together."
Indiana shot 48.4 percent (30-62) from the field, 53.8 percent (7-13) from 3 and 82.6 percent (19-23) from the free throw line on the night. The Hoosiers scored 23 points off of 15 NC State turnovers.
Hulls sank 6-of-9 from the field, including three 3-pointers, and stayed perfect at the line, hitting 5-of-5. He added five assists, four rebounds and two steals to his 20 points. Zeller made 8-of-14 from the field and added seven rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Watford made 4-of-9 from the field, with three 3-pointers, and added nine rebounds and one block. Oladipo made 4-of-12 from the field and added three rebounds, three steals and a block.
Indiana returns to action on Sunday, Dec. 4, when it faces Stetson at 4:30 p.m. ET in Assembly Hall. On Sunday, Indiana will also welcome back members of the 1987 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship team for a reunion to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the program's fifth NCAA title. An autograph session will take place between 3-4 p.m. for those with a game ticket.
- The Associated Press contributed to this story.