24 Chapters
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Big Ten Tournament: Indiana VS. Wisconsin, 3-9-12 (71-79)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller (40) manages to keep control of the ball and hit the bucket as Wisconsin Badgers forward Mike Bruesewitz (31) defends during the Indiana Wisconsin men’s basketball game at the Big Ten Tournament at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., Friday, March 9, 2012.

By Dustin Dopirak

Of course the dagger came from Rob Wilson. How else could this one have possibly ended? On just about every previous occasion in the second half when Indiana threatened to finally erase Wisconsin’s lead, the previously anonymous Wisconsin senior guard stepped up with a huge shot to knock the Hoosiers’ back. It was only fitting that he would hit the shot to bury them.

And that was exactly what happened with 35 seconds to go when Wilson swished a rainbow 3-pointer to give the Badgers a 72-65 lead, effectively crushing the Hoosiers’ hopes in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament. That shot gave Wilson, who came into the game averaging 3.1 points per game, a career high 30 points, and the Badgers hit enough free throws to take a 79-71 victory in front of 18,484 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and advance to today’s 1:40 p.m. semifinal against Michigan State.

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Big Ten Tournament: Indiana VS. Penn State, 3-8-12 (75-58)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers guard Jordan Hulls (1) lays the ball in during the Indiana Penn State men’s basketball game at the Big Ten Tournament at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis, Ind., Thursday, March 8, 2012. Indiana won 75-58.

By Dustin Dopirak

Even though it was expected, this was a win Indiana should’ve been able to bask in. The fifth-seeded Hoosiers’ 75-58 victory over No. 12 seed Penn State in front of 17,936 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament represented yet another milestone for this resurgent squad.

It was Indiana’s first Big Ten Tournament victory since 2006, a slump that not only included the first three seasons of the Tom Crean era but also both of Kelvin Sampson’s years at the helm.

But the tears Crean was fighting back in postgame interviews were not tears of joy. Indiana couldn’t enjoy the victory quite as much, because someone who had seen all the tough times was missing from the bench at game’s end.

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Indiana AT Nebraska, 1-18-12 (69-70)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller (40) pump fakes Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Bo Spencer (23) and Nebraska Cornhuskers guard Brandon Richardson (3) during the Indiana Nebraska men’s basketball game at the Bob Devaney Arena in Lincoln, Neb.

By Dustin Dopirak

When Jordan Hulls’ desperation heave off his own miss clanked off the backboard and the rim, the Indiana Hoosiers found out what it was like to have the court stormed on them.

Unlike the Kentucky players who found themselves toppled during the mayhem at Assembly Hall on Dec. 10, the Hoosiers had plenty of room Wednesday night to trudge off the Devaney Center floor unmolested with heads hanging and despondent facial expressions after the 70-69 loss. Nebraska’s court-storming barely filled the large block “N” at center court, let alone the entire floor like Hoosier fans did on a night that suddenly seems like a distant memory.

Despite building a 13-point second-half lead, the No. 11 Hoosiers never put away Nebraska, and the underdog Cornhuskers made sure they suffered the consequences of that failure. The normally automatic Hulls missed a critical front end of a set of 1-and-1 free throws with 19 seconds to go. Nebraska center Jorge Brian Diaz made two foul shots to give the Huskers a one-point lead with 11 seconds left, and Hulls missed on a layup and a 3-pointer on the game’s final possession to give Big Ten newcomer Nebraska the win in front of 8,613.

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Indiana VS. Ohio State, 12-31-11 (74-70)

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

Indiana Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller (40) shoots over Ohio State Buckeyes forward Jared Sullinger (0) during the Indiana Ohio State men’s basketball game at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind., Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011. Indiana won 74-70.

By Dustin Dopirak

This time there were no students — or at least not enough of a consolidated group of them among the sold-out New Year’s Eve Assembly Hall crowd — to storm the floor, so Indiana coach Tom Crean had most of it to himself.

He rushed to one side of the floor and gestured to the roaring crowd in the East stands by raising his arms up from under him like he was bowling with both hands. He then turned to the West stands and did the same.

The crowd had given him exactly what he’d asked for — an atmosphere that nearly matched the one that was in Assembly Hall on Dec. 10 when the Hoosiers upset then-No. 1 Kentucky, despite the fact that Saturday’s game came during the semester break. His team paid them back with a performance that was on that level and perhaps even more important to the journey for this revived Indiana program.

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A Job Well Done for Verdell Jones III

The Herald-Times Indiana University Press ePub

By Dustin Dopirak

Verdell Jones III is at peace.

The Indiana senior guard is in a situation he’s never been entirely comfortable with, surrounded by reporters trying to probe him about his innermost thoughts. He’s toed a fine line with the media in his four years in Bloomington, providing enough honesty to be accommodating but being sure to maintain something of an emotional wall.

But in this case, the still baby-faced Jones exudes an easy serenity, smiling and laughing with the hood of his bluish sweatshirt hanging sideways off his right shoulder. He draws guffaws from the reporters with stories from conditioning sessions in his freshman year and self-deprecates about the twiggy frame he came to Bloomington with. He is as relaxed in the presence of microphones as he’s ever been.

Part of that is just the mood around the entire Assembly Hall/Cook Hall compound following IU’s landmark upset of No. 5 Michigan State. But more of it is that with Jones’ career coming to a close, he finally knows validation.

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