Complete transcript after the jump.
Complete transcript after the jump.
When Indiana upset then-No. 1 Kentucky at Assembly Hall on Dec.10, Wildcats coach John Calipari pointed to his team’s missed free throws as a reason for their loss.
Kentucky made only 10-of-17 shots from the charity stripe that day, while the Hoosiers missed only three of their 17 attempts.
Friday night’s Sweet 16 rematch was a different story.
No. 1 seed Kentucky made a blistering 35-of-37 at the line, outscoring the fourth-seeded Hoosiers 35-13 in that department. When Tom Crean and the Hoosiers tried to get back in the game by fouling late, Kentucky went to the line and made 14 consecutive free throws.
“I couldn’t imagine a game like this having a free throw discrepancy of 20,” Crean said. “It is what it is. We did a lot of good things. They shot 20 more free throws. That’s the game.”
While Kentucky seemed to feel right at home at the foul line, the Hoosiers had their struggles. Christian Watford had a chance to put Indiana up six late in the first half, but he missed the front end of a 1-and-1. Derek Elston also missed the front end of a 1-and-1 in the first half.
The free-throw battle was a big factor in the first meeting, and it was an even bigger factor on Friday.
“As you’re playing, you know they’re just making them,” Watford said. “I didn’t really know what their percentage was during the game. They drove the ball strongly when they got to there to the line, and they’d knock them down.”
Check out 19 photos from Indiana’s 102-90 loss to Kentucky in the South Regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament in the embedded photo gallery after the jump.
ATLANTA — Watch and listen to what the IU players had to say inside their locker room of the Georgia Dome following the Hoosiers’ 102-90 loss to Kentucky in the NCAA Tournament South Regional semifinal. High-definition quality video is available in the embedded media players below:
Thoughts on a 102-90 loss to the Wildcats:
The road ends here in Atlanta, the Hoosiers running out of gas against a matured and supremely talented Kentucky squad that was just too much.
But what a way to finish, what a way to go down swinging. This game was the height of college basketball entertainment; two storied programs with top five offenses in the country putting on a show. Christian Watford hit some incredible stepbacks and played with no fear. He scored 17 in the first half and ended the contest with 27 points on 9-of-20 shooting. Cody Zeller went after Anthony Davis early and got him into foul trouble. Tonight was not a night where we’re left to wonder what could have been if Zeller got more touches. He got plenty tonight, scoring 20 points on 9-of-14 shooting. Davis has a higher ceiling, is more jaw-dropping. But Zeller is the more skilled and complete player of the two at this crossroads in their careers. They’ll meet again at the next level.
Victor Oladipo was able to be effective driving to the hoop tonight despite the Wildcats’ strong interior D, and finished with 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting. But he fouled out with 4:49 to go and Indiana was down an offensive weapon for the remainder.
And really, that’s a lot of what it came down to inside the Georgia Dome: Kentucky using its athleticism to draw fouls. The Wildcats got to the line at a high rate (57.8 free throw rate) and they shot lights out (35-of-37, 94.6 percent). For the game, 34.3 percent of Kentucky’s points came via freebies. Beyond Oladipo, Will Sheehey also fouled out, Watford had four fouls and Zeller and Hulls each had three a piece. And when Zeller and Oladipo had to sit, Kentucky took advantage of Indiana’s defense off the bench. Marquis Teague went after Remy Abell. Terrence Jones had his way with Tom Pritchard. Darius Miller went right around Matt Roth.
And so while playing the Wildcats just about even in the first half thanks to Davis riding the pine with two fouls and some blistering shooting from the Hoosiers (62.5 eFG%), the second half found the Wildcats always just a bit out of reach for Indiana. Kentucky stretched the lead to 10 at the 10:26 mark, and the Hoosiers really never seriously threatened the rest of the way, only getting as close as five with 5:14 to go before Kentucky shot it back up into double-digits to close it out by a margin of 12.
Whenever December’s Indiana- Kentucky game comes up, everybody talks about Christian Watford’s buzzer-beating shot.
It was the way the game ended, and it’s only natural to remember what happened last. Plus, ESPN has shown the replay of the shot countless times ever since, making it nearly impossible for anyone to forget it.
The Wildcats certainly haven’t.
“We see it a lot on ESPN commercials, phone commercials, a lot of things,” freshman guard Marquis Teague said Thursday at the Georgia Dome.
Added Kentucky coach John Calipari: “I know they made one really good shot at the end of the game because I’ve seen it on commercial about every 15 minutes.”
But for as much was made of Watford’s shot – a shot many believe was a tangible sign Indiana basketball was “back” – the game should never have been that close. The Hoosiers outplayed Kentucky in nearly every facet that day, and had a double-digit lead for most of the game.
It was a desperate late run by the Wildcats that made Watford’s shot necessary.
“That game wasn’t a buzzer-beater game,” Calipari said. “We were down 12 late, and we were lucky to even be in the game. We probably could have easily gotten beat by 20. … They make a shot, but the reality of it is they beat us worse than that.”
A big reason why Indiana built the lead was Anthony Davis getting in early foul trouble. Cody Zeller twice got Davis off his feet, forcing the Kentucky star big man to sit out the final 8:03 of the first half. Davis picked up his third early in the second half, and finished the game with four.
He hasn’t committed more than three fouls in a game since then.