Cam Long’s three-pointer with 5.4 seconds remaining, a bank shot as the shot clock expired, lifted George Mason past Indiana 69-66 in the seventh place game of the O’Reilly Auto Parts Tip-Off Classic.
Long hit the game-winner with the teams tied at 65 and the hand of Jordan Hulls in his face.
“That’s a tough shot,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “It’s the one when Jones gave up the three because he didn’t rotate out fast enough that killed us. It’s never the last play. It never is.”
After Long’s shot, George Mason (3-2) fouled the Hoosiers before they could get a shot off and Jeremiah Rivers made the first free throw and intentionally missed the second.
Rashad Whack secured the rebound for George Mason, was fouled, and hit the second of two free throws. A desperation half court heave by Maurice Creek didn’t draw iron as time expired.
The loss was the third in four days for Indiana (2-3), which was led by 15 points from Maurice Creek and 13 from Verdell Jones. Bobby Capobianco came off the bench, scored his first points in an IU uniform and finished with seven points and 10 rebounds, five offensive, in 17 minutes.
Despite the tough trip, Crean was pleased with his team’s effort.
“The second half we played much better and finally started to look like a team,” Crean said. “We played our best half of basketball and grew up. That doesn’t mean we didn’t make mistakes and we didn’t miss shots and didn’t have turnovers, but we started to grow up. And that’s exactly what has to happen as we move forward with this team and we are going to continue to build on that.”
Long scored 18 to lead George Mason and Mike Morrison added career highs of 17 points, 13 rebounds and seven blocked shots, a tournament record. Luke Hancock, Creek’s teammate at Hargrave Military Academy chipped in nine points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
(The four factors are explained, here.)
Pick to Click: Creek
Crean on his rotation: “We’ve got a lot of determinations to make. How do we really want to play? I’m trying to play to many guys right now. But we want to run. Are we going to all out after it and press more? Are we going to shrink the bench? I don’t have a rotation.”
Crean pleased with Capobianco’s play: “We had a real heart-to-heart the other night about him taking the steps. And it was really at a crossroads. He’s got it in him. He’s been very, very serious since our first night. And he always practices hard, but he always doesn’t play with confidence. This is on the plus side, going home to have him step in and play like that. But at the same time, he’s gotta learn to play through the contact. He can’t throw the ball up.”
George Mason is young, but it’s different at Indiana: Crean: “Those guys, when they’re in there young, they’ve got people handing it down. They didn’t have to send off everybody because of drugs and because of academics. All of these programs have had people hand it down. It may not have been great players handing it down, but we don’t have that.”
Improved free throw shooting: Indiana hit 21 of 28 free throws, including 10 of 10 in the first half.
No production from Pritchard or Dumes: Pritchard went scoreless and grabbed just one rebound in 14 minutes and Dumes, Indiana’s leading scorer last season, also went scoreless and committed two turnovers in seven minutes.
Hoosiers win rebounding battle: Indiana out-rebounded George Mason 43-38, but were outscored 42-20 in the paint.
Watford struggles from the field: Christian Watford finished with 10 points, but shot just 3 of 13.
Up next: Northwestern State at 3:30 ET on Saturday at Assembly Hall. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network.