With the help of a full-court press and a 3-pointer from freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell, the Indiana men’s basketball team was able to overcome a seven-point deficit in the final two minutes to push the game against Butler into overtime.
Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, though, they didn’t make the comeback that mattered most.
Down 84-80 with less than two minutes remaining in overtime, the Bulldogs hit two-straight 3-pointers to take the lead for good, as they knocked off the No. 1 Hoosiers 88-86 Saturday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic.
Butler jumped out to an early lead in the first half, ahead 9-5, but the Hoosiers stormed back on the heels of junior guard Victor Oladipo.
A run that began with two free throws from Oladipo, he would go on to dish in two layups along with one of his signature fastbreak dunks that brought the crowd to its feet. The junior scored eight of IU’s 10 points in a run that put the Hoosiers ahead 15-12 with 11:04 left in the half.
With that run, Oladipo finished the half with 10 points to lead IU with 4-of-6 shooting from the field as the Hoosiers went into the locker room up 37-33.
And early in the second half, it looked as though the Hoosiers would have ample opportunity to stretch that lead after Butler committed six fouls in the first 4:03 to put the Hoosiers in the bonus for the remainder of the game.
But from there, the tables turned.
IU went cold from the field, going 5:18 without a bucket as the Bulldogs pulled ahead with the help of a 16-2 run to take the lead 66-59.
During this span, the Hoosiers allowed Butler to hit three 3-pointers, and IU Coach Tom Crean said his team’s poor perimeter defense allowed Butler to creep its way back.
“We cost ourselves at the end of the game defensively, and they made the plays and, they get the credit for that,” Crean said. “But we made the mistakes that got them there.”
Sophomore guard Remy Abell ended the drought with 3:42 left in the game to pull the Hoosiers back within four, but with four-straight points from Butler’s two big men Roosevelt Jones and Andrew Smith, the Bulldogs were ahead by seven and seemingly in control.
The pair, though would both foul out in the next minute, and from there on, Crean put his players into a full court press that he said helped reenergize the Hoosiers to work themselves back into the game.
“We didn’t waiver, and we felt like we could get up and pressure these guys,” Crean said. “We saw things that we felt we could really pressure them on, and it put us in the position and made us very aggressive.”
But even as the Hoosiers clawed their way back, freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell fell victim to the fast pace and urgency of IU’s offense. With 49 seconds left off a 3-point miss from senior guard Jordan Hulls, the ball bounced towards Ferell, but he fumbled it off his feet out of bounds.
Crean said, though, that he wasn’t worried about the mentality of his starting freshman guard, saying he’s always been a “next play guy.”
So Crean drew up IU’s final possession with Ferrell as an option to take the final shot, and with just six seconds left, Ferrell’s 3-pointer fell through the net and pushed the game into overtime to cap IU’s comeback.
The momentum seemed to follow the Hoosiers into the extra period, as they took a four-point lead with just over two minutes left, but Butler pulled off a few late threes of their own to steal the win from the top-ranked team in the country.
Oladipo and sophomore forward Cody Zeller led the five Hoosiers in double-figures with 18 points each as Oladipo excelled from the floor, shooting 7-of-10. Zeller was Butler’s most popular target to foul, shooting 14 shots from the line, and after missing three early, he finished 10-of-14 from the charity stripe.
Ferrell grabbed eight rebounds to lead the team to go along with his late 3-pointer, but his six turnovers highlighted one of Crean’s main points after the game.
He said his squad just didn’t have what it took to beat a determined Butler team.
“We just didn’t play well enough to win, we just didn’t,” Crean said.