After a week hiatus, Indiana returns to the floor following a week of final exams for a meeting with No. 23 Butler in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
The game will tip at 2:30 p.m. ET and will be broadcast on Fox Sports 1:
Whether you’re a fan of the event or not, the Crossroads Classic returns for a fourth year on Saturday and will continue for the foreseeable future. Billed as a showcase of the state’s top four programs, Indiana, Butler, Purdue and Notre Dame come together each year for a day in late December in the state’s capital.
It’s an event that is heavily reliant on Indiana fans to sell tickets and the program’s long term involvement in such an arrangement raises some questions. Chief among them is the fact that Indiana’s participation in the Crossroads Classic forced the program to miss out on the CBS Sports Classic, which was formed with the goal of bringing together the four programs with the most national championships. With Indiana out, the event moved on to Ohio State and now the Buckeyes, North Carolina, Kentucky and UCLA will play a national showcase on CBS this weekend while Indiana takes a backseat on Fox Sports 1.
Nonetheless, the Crossroads Classic moves on as an event that feels stale, offers very little in terms of national buzz and puts the Hoosiers in a no-win situation. Win, like the program did in year one of the event over Notre Dame, and it’s ho hum. Lose, like the program has the last two years to Butler and Notre Dame, and it’s, “what’s wrong with Indiana?”
Butler exposed Indiana’s defense at times in its 88-86 overtime win against the Hoosiers. This was especially apparent after halftime, as the Bulldogs pumped in 1.28 points per possession during the second half and overtime at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday. Indiana had done a strong job so far this season at limiting 3-point makes, but Butler connected on 50 percent (6-of-12) during the final 25 minutes of play, including back-to-back daggers in the overtime period to erase a four-point deficit and take a two-point lead.
A look at what happened on those two 3-pointers — as well as a look at another Butler score from distance and one at the rim — in the latest edition of Film Session.
I. Hanner Mosquera-Perea checks into the game for Cody Zeller before an inbounds play. He’s involved immediately, as Rotnei Clarke sets a screen for Khyle Marshall:
Sheehey switches onto Marshall, while Perea slides down in the lane a bit. By the time he turns his head, Clarke is already curling around Erik Fromm, who’s got a body on Christian Watford and preventing him from immediately picking up Clarke:
Clarke is able to get a clean look off — though Watford does eventually make his way out and try and get a hand up — which he hits:
Tough to be too critical of Mosquera-Perea here; after all, these were his first collegiate minutes of his career against a team doing a lot of screening. But the fact remains: Butler took the advantage and scored three points.
There are many ways to try and explain No. 1 Indiana’s upset loss to Butler on Saturday. There are many ways to try and justify it.
But maybe, just maybe, the right answer you’re so desperately looking for doesn’t have all that much to do with Indiana. Perhaps it has more to do with Butler.
There’s no question the Hoosiers didn’t play like the nation’s best team in Saturday’s 88-86 overtime loss. No question at all, they have to play better going forward.
At the end of the day, though, no matter how good and how talented the Hoosiers are, they continue to run into situations they haven’t experienced before. On Saturday, it was an overtime game against a smaller but more physical team. They had to adjust inside of the game and, for the most part, they failed to that.
It doesn’t happen often, but Tom Crean and Indiana were outcoached on Saturday. And that’s no insult to Crean. It’s more a compliment to Butler coach Brad Stevens, who continues to prove his value as one of the best in-game coaches in college basketball.
Stevens and Butler have been there before. They’ve been to two national championship games. They’ve played against and beaten bigger teams. They’ve taken on the so-called “best” of college basketball and won.
Saturday’s game was nothing new for the Bulldogs. Even as their best players began fouling out — first Roosevelt Jones, then Andrew Smith and Erik Fromm — Butler remained calm.
“It’s no surprise to us,” Smith said afterward. “People are going to be surprised when an unranked team beats a team like IU, but we have a great team.”
And that’s just it. These are the kinds of games Indiana needs to learn how to win. The Hoosiers won’t always be able to win in run-away fashion. Sometimes, they’ll have to grind them out.
I. Welp, it happened: Brad Stevens’ crew of lesser talented homegrown Indiana kids took the Hoosiers out of their game for long stretches in this one, and by the time the dust settled on a thrilling final minutes and overtime, the Bulldogs emerged victorious. Butler makes noise in the college basketball world once more — taking Indiana’s No. 1 ranking along with it. Tom Crean preached all week about Butler’s physicality and it really got to Indiana this afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs were able to limit Indiana’s fastbreak opportunities, save for Indiana turning defense into quick scores, which meant the Hoosiers would have to make a go of it in the halfcourt. Stevens had his plans there: Butler packed it in, made the Hoosiers a perimeter shooting team with freshman Yogi Ferrell taking a host of shots. Indiana looked out of sorts. Quick long jumpers. One-on-one play. Andrew Smith out-muscling and out-hustling Cody Zeller. The Hoosiers didn’t hit a bucket from the 11:17 to 3:43 mark in the second half. They were lifeless, their body language looking of defeat.
But a 1-2-2 press Indiana employed late had them surviving until an overtime period. It helped stop the clock. Victor Oladipo got a steal out of it and a score. And Ferrell, after fumbling a pass out of bounds for what might have been Indiana’s last shot at this one, hit a huge 3-pointer to tie it at 76. Butler’s ensuing possession came up empty.
The Hoosiers had the momentum in OT. Smith and Roosevelt Jones were on the bench fouled out. Hulls shot faked and hit a shot early. But back-to-back 3-pointers by Rotnei Clarke and Chase Stigall put Butler up two and had the momentum shifting. Zeller — after being a bit lifeless in this one — got a lay-in to tie it at 86.
Yet, walk-on Alex Barlow took Hulls in isolation all the way to the rim and hit the bucket on Butler’s last possession. Just 2.5 seconds left for Indiana to do anything.
Hulls’ desperation shot at the buzzer just over halfcourt never had a chance. Ballgame.
Brad Stevens, Roosevelt Jones (16 points, 12 rebounds, seven assists) and Alex Barlow (six points) met with the media following Butler’s 88-86 overtime win over No. 1 Indiana at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday.
Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below: