Hoosier MVP…Indiana couldn't have won this game without the contributions of a handful of players, but first and foremost was the effort from Robert Vaden. The IU coaching staff seemed genuine afterwards that they didn't expect to get many minutes out of the 6-5 sophomore due to a sprained ankle, but he instead scored a team-high 18 points in a team-high 36 minutes, highlighted by his game-winning 3-pointer with 3.3 seconds remaining. Vaden also had to play a big role on the defensive end, generally matched up with either 6-9 Marcus Slaughter or 6-10 Mohamed Abukar.
Vaden might have been the game's MVP for his shot and his surprising 36 minutes of play, but the Hoosiers wouldn't have had a chance to pull it out late if not for the efforts of point guard Earl Calloway. Time and time again, Calloway beat his man off the dribble, drove the lane and finished layups. Calloway finished 8-of-9 shooting for a career-high 18 points, and when he got the ball in transition, he turned Aztec defenders around to score a couple of baskets on the break. Defensively, his six steals helped force 16 San Diego State turnovers, which was a big factor considering San Diego State shot 56.4 percent from the floor for the game.
In a team win, Vaden and Calloway share game MVP honors.
Pivotal Stretch…San Diego State took a 66-57 lead on a John Sharper 3-pointer with 10:52 left and appeared poised to pull away. But Indiana responded with a 10-0 run over the next 2:50 to retake the lead and turn the first-round encounter into a nailbiter down the stretch.
Aztec backup center Mohamed Camara missed a pair of free throws that could have extended the lead to 11, and then Roderick Wilmont drove the baseline and hit a tough 6-footer to cut the margin to seven. After a San Diego State miss, Marco Killingsworth scored on a putback of an A.J. Ratliff miss, and after missed 3s by both Sharper and Brandon Heath, Wilmont cut the lead to two by drawing a foul on a driving layup and free throw. Earl Calloway then got his hand on a Abukar in-bounds pass and got the ball to Vaden, who knocked down a 3-pointer to give IU a 67-66 lead with 8:01 left.
Indiana was able to keep that run going despite the absence of Marco Killingsworth, who picked up his fourth foul on an offensive foul with 8:32 remaining. But Indiana's five-guard lineup got some drives to the basket while also cutting down on the open looks for the Aztec guards.
What I Found Most Concerning… Killingsworth played a big role with his 18 points, but he was forced to the sidelines in both halves due to foul trouble. With just under six minutes remaining in the first half, he pushed Marcus Slaughter in the back on a rebound with IU leading 35-26, and SDSU responded with an 18-6 run to close the half to take the lead. In the second half Killingsworth was called for an offensive foul - his fourth foul - when an official said his elbow caught a San Diego State player around the neck at the 8:32 mark.
Indiana survived, but the Hoosiers' NCAA tourney stay will be short-lived if Killingsworth continues to get in foul trouble. A pair of foolish fouls nearly cost the Hoosiers in their round one win over San Diego State, and IU will have a hard time overcoming his absence again on Saturday against third-seeded Gonzaga.
What I Found Most Surprising… San Diego State never figured out a way to keep Calloway from driving the lane for layups. While San Diego State is a team known for its athleticism, it was obvious that the quickest player on the floor was the 6-3 Calloway. Time and time again, he beat his man off the dribble and drove the lane and was generally met with very little resistance around the basket.
Calloway was able to break down the Aztec guards in the halfcourt and turn around their defenders in transition. Calloway started his scoring with a 3-pointer 18 seconds into the contest, but then his final seven baskets were layups. Three of those came during a 2:10 stretch of the second half when IU overcame a 72-67 deficit to tie the game after a conventional 3-point play from Calloway.
Calloway wasn't alone in his ability to attack of the dribble. Both Wilmont and Lewis Monroe did it as well, and Indiana actually owned a huge 51-28 edge in points in the paint. Some of that came from Killingsworth, but most of it was by the IU guards attacking the basket off the dribble.
What I Found Most Impressive…The Hoosiers found a way to win a game that it appeared they had no business pulling out. Indiana squandered a nine-point lead early, and San Diego State's lights-out shooting looked like it was going to be too much for the Hoosiers.
But Indiana battled back from a nine-point second half deficit with a 10-0 run to take the lead. After San Diego State immediately pushed that lead back to five, IU responded again with a run to tie the game at 76-76. Finally, Marshall Strickland forced a critical San Diego State turnover late that gave Vaden a chance for his heroic shot.
IU Coach Mike Davis said afterwards Indiana was "prepared" to win a game like this with everything it's been through in the last several months. From Davis' resignation to a 1-7 stretch to a heartbreaking loss to Ohio State, Indiana had been through just about every tough situation imaginable.
"I should have kind of given him a bounce pass but I threw it right at him, he tipped it, and Vaden with his hops jumped up and got it and shot the 3." – Roderick Wilmont.
"I was just open tonight. Coach was telling me to push the ball and they were playing lanes for me to pass it back out. The lane opened up, no one came to me, so I just drove it on in."– Earl Calloway.
"I think Coach Rupp said let's go with a guard (after Killingsworth picked up his fourth foul). I thought it was a good idea because we could switch everything. I had no idea if it would really work for us because offensively we had never played that way. I think we got a turnover and a layup and pushed the ball up a couple of times." – IU Coach Mike Davis.
Upon Further Review…San Diego State
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