Column: Indiana is learning to close

Down by 10 on Tuesday against No. 3 Wisconsin, the Hoosiers rallied for a 75-72 win. All of a sudden, they look like a much different team.

Yogi Ferrell couldn't make anything from outside the lane. Great looks came, and great looks went without much in the way of production.

But Ferrell, Indiana's fearless sophomore point guard, continued to attack, undaunted by his subpar shooting percentage. He was 0-of-7 from beyond the arc, 7-of-21 from the field overall, and yet he continued to shoot.

And the shots fell. A 3-pointer when the game was tied at 65-all. A midrange jumper as the shot clock was winding down to put Indiana up 70-65. And two free throws, in a 1-and-1 situation, that put the Hoosiers ahead by three in the closing seconds.

Ferrell didn't make all of his shots, but he made them when they counted the most. He helped an Indiana team without a signature win close a game few thought it could, and he did it by being aggressive.

Indiana 75, No. 3 Wisconsin 72. All of the sudden, the season feels a little bit different, no?

"It's just amazing what happens when some real confidence starts to come," Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward. "Bottom line is we persevered."

Indiana (12-5, 2-2 Big Ten) stuck with Wisconsin, let some thing slip away, and trailed by a point at halftime. That's nice, a tight half with one of the nation's best teams.

But then the Hoosiers fell behind 52-42 early in the second half, and you got the sense that Wisconsin (16-1, 3-1) would run its winning streak over Indiana to 13. It just had that feel to it.

IU refused to go away. Ferrell and freshman Stanford Robinson continued to attack the basket. Will Sheehey made a unbelievably big 3-pointer. And the Hoosiers dug in for much-needed and timely defensive stops.

"It's still a fight to get them to believe," Crean said. "Sometimes when they're down like that when they're not used to it, and 15 looks like 25 or 10 looks like 20. That's not true. There are a lot of possessions in the game. I have great confidence in them."

Robinson is becoming a star before our very eyes. Indiana ran much of its offense through him late and he came through with 13 points and five rebounds in 24 minutes off the bench.

Sheehey had 13 points, six rebounds and three assists, including one of the biggest shots he has hit in his Indiana career to put the Hoosiers back ahead by two when they had lost the lead late.

Noah Vonleh made a great play to tip in a Ferrell missed free throw and made countless big defensive plays against Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky.

And then there was Ferrell, who has become Indiana's closer in a season in which some thought it didn't have one. He takes all the big shots, makes all the big plays, and in this one, helped earn the Hoosiers their biggest win of the season.

[Note: It's quite amazing how good Indiana's offense can be when it limits its turnovers.]

At 10-5, the season looked lost, destined for a trip to the NIT. At 12-5, well, it looks much, much different. College basketball is a funny game sometimes. Don't blink now, but the Hoosiers are growing into a much better team. Top Stories