Here's the box score. Like so many games in the last two seasons, Indiana allowed a game that was in hand to get away, but fortunately, thanks to a hot start in overtime, IU held on to beat Northwestern and send the seniors away with a win. IU led by 8 with 3 minutes remaining in regulation but allowed NU to make a 8-0 run to force the game to overtime. After NU tied the game with 1:11 remaining, IU didn't get another shot, turning the ball over on both possessions. Still, IU then loosened up and dominated overtime, taking a 7 point lead in the first two minutes and never allowing NU to get closer than 5.
IU struggled with turnovers, as usual, and shot only 43 percent from the field, but IU won the game on the offensive boards, behind the arc, and at the line, and the 2-3 zone that IU employed seemed to stymie Northwestern for long stretches of the game. IU rebounded 18 of 34 misses, which was even better than Northwestern's 21 of 47. The Hoosiers shot 26-32 from the line compared to 9-15 for NU. Both teams shot lots of three pointers. NU shot 31 percent on 42 three point attempts, while IU was 10-23. Of course, freshman Jordan Hulls was the hero, scoring 24 points on 8-12 three point shooting. How did IU's other individuals fare?
- Derek Elston started and scored 17 points on 5-11 from the field and had 8 rebounds.
- Christian Watford shot only 3-10 from the field but scored 14 points thanks to a strong defensive performance. He also had 11 rebounds, 10 defensive.
- Bobby Capobianco scored 8 points and had 7 rebounds in 24 minutes.
- Verdell Jones scored 18 points.
The Hoosiers ended Northwestern's longest winning streak in this series since the 1930s, and avoided the indignity of two consecutive home losses to a program that until 2009 hadn't won in Bloomington since 1968. IU finished 4-14 in the Big Ten, which is a bit of a disappointment after a 3-3 start, but is progress. Readers of this site know that I don't do many predictions around here. Still, in December, I wrote an IU preview for another Big Ten blogger who never bothered to post it. Here's what I wrote on December 22, hours before the loss to Loyola Maryland and a few days before the devastating injury to Maurice Creek:
I'll predict 5-13 for IU. I predict that IU will sweep Iowa, will beat Michigan at home, will win one of the three games against Northwestern/Penn State, and will pull a home upset against either Minnesota, Ohio State, Illinois, or Wisconsin. I wish I could predict an upset of Purdue or MSU, but I think that's a bit much to ask this season.
Obviously I was doubly wrong about Iowa but right about Michigan. IU got one more win than I predicted against Penn State/Northwestern and did upset Minnesota. I certainly don't want to make a Mike Davis-style argument--"hey, we were picked 8th! What are you complaining about?"--but considering my read on the season made after the Pitt win but before the Loyola loss and before the Creek injury, the season certainly could have been worse.
IU now is locked in to the #10 seed and will begin Big Ten Tournament play at around 5 p.m. Thursday. If Michigan upsets Michigan State on the road today, then Michigan will move into the #7 seed. Otherwise, the Hoosiers will play another game against Northwestern. Purdue is locked into the #2 seed, so an IU win on Thursday would lead to the first IU-Purdue Big Ten Tournament matchup since the inaugural event in 1998. Also, this will be IU's first BTT game against Northwestern. IU has played every other school at least once. More coverage as the week continues.