DES MOINES, Iowa -- Tied at 50 with eight minutes to play. Kentucky-Indiana in the NCAA tournament. What more do you want?
We waited four years to see this rivalry renewed. And the champions of the Southeastern Conference and the Big Ten did not disappoint.
Indiana found an answer in the clutch moments Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena, defeating the Wildcats 73-67 to earn a spot in the East Region semifinal next week against top-seeded North Carolina or No. 9 Providence in Philadelphia.
In an intense atmosphere befitting a regional and not the round of 32, the Hoosiers made a decisive statement in the most hot-blooded of moments.
Indiana freshman forward Thomas Bryant scored a three-point play on a physical move in the paint to unlock the tie at 50. After a Kentucky miss, IU freshman OG Anunoby -- who delivered an array of spectacular dunks Thursday in the Hoosiers’ rout of Chattanooga -- buried a 3.
This was far from an opening-round tuneup, though.
Senior point guard Yogi Ferrell connected next to push the lead to eight points, the Hoosiers’ largest advantage. A Bryant dunk extended the lead to 10 with four minutes remaining.
From there, the Hoosiers held on to earn their first Sweet 16 appearance since 2013.
Any more questions about fifth-seeded Indiana, which felt slighted by the selection committee after losing its first Big Ten tournament game to Michigan? Even with Kentucky seeded fourth in this region, the Hoosiers' athleticism doesn't take a back seat to any team in the field.
Yes, this was a signature victory for Indiana and coach Tom Crean.
The Wildcats, who have advanced to the Final Four in four of the past five seasons, failed to win at least three tournament games (in a year when they qualified for the tourney) for the first time since 2008.