DES MOINES, Iowa --- Indiana senior guard Yogi Ferrell was one of the last ones to walk off the court at Wells Fargo Arena. When he arrived in the locker room, junior forward Collin Hartman hoisted him in the air as he was mobbed by his teammates.
Moments like these are why Ferrell came back to Indiana. And, thanks to Ferrell and freshman center Thomas Bryant, the Hoosiers are another step closer to reaching their ultimate goal.
Ferrell's free throws with two seconds remaining sealed the No. 5 seed Hoosiers' 73-67 win over No. 4 seed Kentucky and sent them into the Sweet 16. It's the Hoosiers' third Sweet 16 appearance in the last five years.
"It's good, man," Ferrell said. "I'm 1-0 against Kentucky now, get to go out as a senior with that win. Coach (Tom) Crean is 2-2. We knew this was going to be a high-level game with their ability to score the ball, the way they defend. We had a rocky start, and I was just proud of the way we came back."
Ferrell added 18 points, and Thomas Bryant led IU (27-7) with a team-high 19 points - 17 of which he scored in the second half. Sophomore guard Tyler Ulis led Kentucky (27-9) with a game-high 27.
Bryant single-handedly outscored Kentucky's biggest frontcourt contributors in Marcus Lee, Skal Labissiere and Alex Poythress, who all finished with a combined 14 points on 5 of 14 shooting from the field while Bryant was 6 of 8 from the field.
"The point of emphasis I had was just staying on the attack," Bryant said. "Coach told me that he wanted me to attack more, get a quick whip or get a quick bucket down there on the block when I can. He believes in me, and I just went with the coach's plan, you know. Luckily it turned out that way."
Bryant's old-fashioned 3-point play broke 50-50 tie with nearly seven minutes remaining. Anunoby followed it up with a 3 from the left corner to extend IU's lead to six. Then a jumper from the right elbow by Ferrell pushed IU's lead to eight, its largest of the game. A pair of free throws by Bryant put Indiana back up by eight with 5:03 left.
Indiana's lead hovered between 7-10 points over the next 90 seconds.
Holding on to a seven-point lead with 2:02 left, Bryant launched a 3-pointer from the right wing to avoid a shot-clock violation. Officials initially ruled the ball didn't hit the rim and confirmed the ruling, resulting in a shot clock violation for IU.
On the ensuing defensive possession, Anunoby swatted a left elbow attempt by Kentucky freshman guard Jamal Murray which would've given cut the IU lead to five. Instead, it resulted in a one-handed jam by Bryant on the other end. However, Ulis would respond on the other end with a 3-pointer to trim the Indiana lead to six with 1:06 left.
What was most impressive was how Indiana handled adversity down the stretch, essentially playing with eight players and a walk-on for most of the game as injuries mounted.
Robert Johnson injured his right ankle after landing awkwardly on a missed layup attempt with 5:17 remaining in the first half. He did not return.
The injuries continued to pile on in the second half, as freshman forward Anunoby left with a left heel injury, according to CBS' Tracy Wolfson, and Morgan re-injured his shoulder. Morgan did not return, but Anunoby did and finished with seven points and three rebounds.
Despite the injury setbacks, whether permanent or temporary in the game, the Hoosiers never relented.
Additionally, Hartman played hurt but still managed two points, four rebounds and three assists.
"Our mentality is, when you see that, we don't get on our heels, no one gets scared," said grad transfer forward Max Bielfeldt, who finished with five points and four rebounds. "We get better for them. We know we're going to win it for them if they can't come back in, and I think we have just a tremendous spirit."
Indiana will face the winner of North Carolina-Providence on March 25 in Philadelphia.
"The bottom line I'm looking forward to is helping us stay focused on what we've got to do, whether it's North Carolina or Providence, how we have to play that game," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. "Love being around 'em, Love game planning with 'em, and that's exciting for me.... This year being with this group, they bring a lot of inspiration to me, there is no question."
Crean said he expects both Johnson and Morgan to play in Indiana's Sweet 16 game Friday.
Johnson was also optimistic about returning and being able to play in Friday's game. Johnson said he "planted wrong."
"Some pain shot in it, but it wasn't nearly as bad as the first time," Johnson said. "So I'm pretty sure I'll be back."
Morgan said he felt his shoulder come out after someone fell on his back. When asked about his health after the game, he downplayed the seriousness of it.
"I'm better," he said. "It was just a re-aggravation."
Though both players felt fine afterward, Crean still will remain cautious with both.
"I felt awful for those guys," Crean said. "I really did, because Rob has worked so hard to come back. I know I said that, but I think he will. We will be careful."