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Wednesday, November 21, 2012
Rapid Reaction: Indiana 82, G'town 72 (OT)

By Dana O'Neil


NEW YORK -- A quick look at Indiana’s 82-72 overtime victory over Georgetown in the championship game of the Legends Classic.

Overview: This wasn’t the matchup everyone had hoped for but no one is complaining now, not after 45 minutes of ridiculously good basketball.

Having watched UCLA and Georgetown in back-to-back games, there was no arguing which was the better team, at least on this night.

The Hoyas in a landslide.

Pushed and prodded by Georgetown the entire game, the Hoosiers pushed right back, giving a November game a March feel. Like the Champions Classic in Atlanta, it was high entertainment, high intensity and high skill, and it was like that from the tip.

If Georgetown is the fifth-best team in the Big East -- as it was picked in the preseason -- the league is going to be fierce. The Hoyas leave New York with a lot more believers than they came with, and a sweet combination of offensive skill and high hoops IQ should carry them far.

Indiana leaves as it came -- as the No. 1 team in the nation, and maybe with more admirers, too. That’s because the Hoosiers held on, fought back and proved they aren’t just the Cody Zeller show. The sophomore was good, but his surrounding cast was every bit as great. Jordan Hulls had 17, Victor Oladipo 12, and Christian Watford a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Mix in two huge 3s from sophomore Remy Abell and another from Yogi Ferrell, and you've got an across-the-board box score here.

The caveat: There is still that lurking issue of IU’s defense. It tightened up when Indiana needed it most, but the Hoosiers have work to do, especially defending the arc, beyond which Georgetown did its most damage.

Turning point: There were approximately 50 in regulation, but the overtime was more like a slow bleed to victory for Indiana. The Hoosiers went to the basket and got to the free throw line, needing just one field goal to build a seven-point lead that would be the end of Georgetown.

And then came the dagger, a buzzer-beating circus 3-pointer from Ferrell to bump the lead to 10 with less than a minute to play.

Before that, though, was the end of regulation. Otto Porter drained a 3-pointer to get the Hoyas within one after IU seemed ready to finally ease to the W. He followed it up with a gigantic drive to the right side of the lane, laying in the muscle shot to tie it at 64.

Key stat: Here are the numbers Hoyas fans will be sure to study: 36 to 11. That’s how many times Indiana went to the free throw line versus Georgetown. The Hoyas didn’t even get into a one-and-one situation until there were two minutes left in OT.

Key player: Really hard to pick just one and really hard to limit it to one team in a game like this. So I won’t.

In a group effort from Indiana, the edge goes to Hulls. The quintessential Indiana kid made sure Indiana stayed No. 1. His 17 points matched Zeller's, but it was the timing of some of them that mattered most. Hulls scored five of the Hoosiers’ first seven in OT and then set up Zeller with two more on a nifty bounce pass. That ended up being all the cushion IU needed.

But we’ve also got to give Porter his due. The super sophomore, who had just three points in the first half, nearly willed the Hoyas to and through overtime. He finished with 15 points, including those crucial five at the end of regulation to force the extra five minutes.

Miscellaneous: Indiana has yet to hear from the NCAA regarding its appeal of suspended players Hanner Mosquera-Perea and Peter Jurkin. The two traveled to Brooklyn, and their appeal was heard Tuesday, but the NCAA did not make a ruling. ... Hoosier Nation travels.

Next game: The Hoosiers host Ball State on Monday, and then North Carolina, loser to Butler on Tuesday night, heads to Bloomington on Nov. 27 for the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. ... Georgetown hosts Mount St. Mary’s on Saturday and then has a good back-to-back, against Tennessee (Nov. 30) and Texas (Dec. 4).