Bloomington – There will come a day when Tom Crean's IU teams need last-minute heroics to beat the top teams from around the country.
On Tuesday, it needed them to beat IUPUI.
Tom Pritchard blocked a potential game-tying 3-pointer by Leroy Nobles with one second remaining to preserve a 60-57 win for the Hoosiers in front of a boisterous 13,174 at Assembly Hall. The win lifted Indiana to 2-0 heading into next week's trip to the Maui Invitational, while IUPUI slipped to 1-2.
IUPUI overcame an 11-point halftime deficit and gave itself a couple of chances to take the lead in the closing minute. But after scoring 12 of his team-high 15 points in the second half to key a Jaguar comeback, Alex Young missed a pair of 3-pointers late that could have given the Jaguars the lead. The last of those misses coming with five seconds remaining when Young curled around a pick and threw up an air ball from the top of the key.
IU point guard Daniel Moore corralled the rebound and made two free throws with :01.2 remaining to up the lead to three. IUPUI's Billy Pettiford then hurled a pass 3/4 length of the court to Nobles for a last-second shot, but Pritchard blocked the ball from behind as the buzzer sounded.
Crean admitted afterward that it was a risky move for Pritchard to go for the block on the final play, but Pritchard said he had no doubt that he had a clean block.
"I wasn't worried at all," Pritchard said. "I thought I was straight up."
The officials agreed, and Indiana secured its fourth straight win including the two exhibition contests. While the other victories have been decisive double-digit wins, Tuesday's game was a different story. After IUPUI used an 18-7 run in the first five minutes of the second half to tie the game at 38-38, neither team led by more than four the rest of the way.
"I don't think we can describe what winning this way does for our confidence," Crean said. "We have to learn from our experiences. To find a way to win the game, to get stops on the last three possessions, is a great experience for this group."
The blocked shot capped another big effort from Pritchard. The 6'9" freshman become the first IU freshman to ever start his career with back-to-back doubles, finishing with 19 points and 10 rebounds while making 7-of-8 shots from the floor. His work on the boards helped IU to a 35-31 edge in rebounding against the athletic Jaguars, and his play on the inside was critical to an Indiana team that got itself in trouble early on from the perimeter.
Indiana missed its first seven shots from the floor in the game, including five attempts from behind the 3-point arc. That put IU in a 6-0 hole early, and IUPUI held an 18-12 edge with 7:30 remaining in the opening half. But Pritchard answered with seven straight points on a conventional 3-point play, a lay-up and a dunk to start off a 19-2 IU run that sent the Hoosiers into the locker room with a 31-20 lead.
"He's been a joy to coach – he wants to learn, he wants to get better," Crean said. "He really stood up tonight, stayed with it and never got rattled."
Pritchard was one of four Hoosiers to finish in double figures. Matt Roth came off the bench to knock down four 3-pointers on his way to 12 points, while Nick Williams and Devan Dumes added 10 points apiece. Daniel Moore, meanwhile, didn't attempt a field goal but did finish with a team-high six assists and the two late free-throws.
Moore played 23 minutes off the bench, including the final eight minutes of the game after starting point guard Verdell Jones was forced the bench with an ankle injury. Crean didn't think Jones' injury would keep him out for any length of time, but he was unable to come back for the final 8:15 against IUPUI.
That created an opportunity for Moore, who took advantage of it.
"In the last couple of weeks he's really bought into his role is, which is be tough as nails on defense, get the team into the offense," Crean said. "He is so fast, when we get into an open floor game, we feel really good with him in there."
The setback was a disappointing one for Hunter's team, which was playing without its top returning player, Gary Patterson, who is out with a broken hand. But it was also a valuable learning experience as well for both teams according to Hunter.
"This was great for my kids," Hunter said. "All we said before we went on the court was give ourselves a chance to win at the end, and we did that. I've won some big games before, but I've never been more proud of a group than the way we played today.
"I also think this is also going to help Indiana. They played with toughness, mental toughness. They could have folded at some times. This was good for both basketball teams."
Pritchard 7-8 5-7 19, Taber 2-3 0-0 5, Jones 1-5 0-0 2, Williams 4-9 2-3 10, Dumes 3-12 2-2 10, Roth 4-10 0-0 12, Moore 0-0 2-2 2, Finkelmeier 0-0 0-0 0, Story 0-2 0-0 0, Jobe 0-0 0-0 0. 21-49 11-14 60.
Young 6-16 1-4 15, Glenn 5-6 2-2 12, Pettiford 2-4 0-0 4, Nobles 3-11 0-0 7, Ashworth 5-10 3-4 15, Moss 0-2 0-0 0, Avery 2-4 0-0 4, Stone 0-1 0-0 0, Smeathers 0-2 0-0 0, Siakam 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 23-56 6-10 57.
3-Pointers: Indiana 7-24 (Roth 4-9, Dumes 2-9, Taber 1-1, Story 0-2, Jones 0-2, Williams 0-1), IUPUI 5-19 (Ashworth 2-4, Young 2-7, Nobles 1-5, Smeathers 0-2, Moss 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 35 (Pritchard 10), IUPUI 31 (Pettiford 10). Assists: Indiana 17 (Moore 6), IUPUI 10 (Pettiford 3, Ashworth 3). Turnovers: Indiana 14, IUPUI 11. Blocks: Indiana 2 (Pritchard), IUPUI 4 (Glenn 2, Avery 2). Steals: Indiana 3, IUPUI 5. Officials: Ed Hightower, Tim Higgins, Mike Sanzere. Attendance: 13,174.
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Hoosiers Hold On Against IUPUI, 60-57
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