Bloomington - There were only good questions for Devan Dumes to answer this time around.
Indiana's junior guard hit a 3-pointer with 1:11 left to extend IU's lead to six and then came up with a critical steal with 24 seconds remaining to help the Hoosiers fight off a furious second half Iowa rally and escape with a 68-60 win. The victory was the Hoosiers' first of the Big Ten slate after eight straight losses and ended a program-worst 11-game losing streak.
It was a particularly sweet finish for Dumes, who had played well in games against Michigan and Northwestern earlier this season, only to make mistakes in the closing minutes of both games to keep the Hoosiers picking up their first league win. But against Iowa he was virtually flawless, scoring 27 points on 8-of-9 shooting while making all five of his 3-point attempts.
"There's a lot of relief from a lot of people," Dumes said. "We are usually in (the locker room) and we're upset. We work tremendously hard, and to come up short a lot of times, it's hard. So there were a lot of smiles."
While the win was both satisfying and rewarding for Dumes and the rest of his teammates who hadn't won since a Dec. 10 victory over TCU, Tom Crean was equally as excited to see the 14,247 IU fans in attendance finally have a chance to celebrate a win.
"Thank you, thank you, thank you," Crean said to the crowd after the game via the public address microphone. "You are the greatest fans in America. This is your win. No way we do it without the best fans in America, Hoosier Nation!"
As probably should have been expected from an IU team that had dropped its first eight league games, the victory didn't come without plenty of nervous moments.
Indiana closed the first half with an 8-0 run to open a 13-point lead, and then extended that lead to 20, 49-29, with less than 12 minutes left. But Iowa answered with a rally that was reminiscent of Michigan's last month, when the Wolverines overcame a 20-point second half lead and eventually upended the Hoosiers in overtime.
Trailing by 12, 59-47, with 3:35 left, Iowa's Aaron Fuller and Devan Bawinkel hit back-to-back 3s to cut the lead to six. Nick Williams then missed a jumper and Kyle Taber missed the front end of a one-and-one, and Iowa cut the lead to three with a free throw by Jeff Peterson followed by an offensive rebound and two more free throws by Jarryd Cole.
But Dumes had an answer. The junior came off a screen and drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing that pushed the lead back to six with 1:11 remaining.
"I felt I got a good screen out top, I felt good, they passed it to me and I let it go," Dumes said.
Dumes followed up his big play on the offensive end with a game-clincher on the defensive end soon afterwards. After a Verdell Jones free throw extended the lead four, 64-60, with 36 seconds remaining, Dumes stepped in front of a Jeff Peterson pass and passed it to Nick Williams for a breakaway lay-up. Williams missed, but Malik Story was there to clean it up and give Indiana a six-point cushion with 19 seconds left.
"I knew (Peterson) was going to try to pass it back – I didn't think he'd try to shoot the 3," Dumes said of the late steal. "Once he released it, I knew I had to jump on it. It was huge."
It was also a huge win for the Hoosiers, who many thought might not win a Big Ten game this season following the turnover on the roster following Kelvin Sampson's resignation and the mass exodus of players from last year's roster. But after a series of near misses against Michigan, Northwestern and Minnesota, the Hoosiers captured a victory that was both satisfying and a big relief.
"It looked at times at the end like we were running on fumes," Crean said. "But I think we were trying to get rid of that 50 to 75-pound weight that was on everyone's back."
In addition to Dumes' big night, the Hoosiers also got 14 points and nine rebounds from Nick Williams. Indiana also turned the ball over a season low 11 times – including only three in the second half. The Big Ten's worst team in turnovers this season, Indiana owned a commanding 20-9 edge in points off turnovers.
The play of Williams and Dumes coupled with the limited number of turnovers helped the Hoosiers overcome the absence of Tom Pritchard, who fouled out with only two points and two rebounds in 14 minutes.
Iowa got a big game from Matt Gatens (22 points) and was the first Big Ten team to out-rebound IU this season (32-30), but the night ultimately belonged to the Hoosiers.
"It's a great win for us," Crean said. "As I told them late in the game and in the locker room, this will be the toughest win they ever get. I'm really proud of them."
Pritchard 1-2 0-0 2, Taber 3-6 1-3 7, Jones 1-5 2-6 4, Williams 4-9 6-6 14, Dumes 8-9 6-8 27, Roth 2-7 0-1 5, Moore 0-1 0-1 0, Lewis 0-0 0-0 0, Story 4-8 0-0 9. Totals 23-47 15-25 68.
Cole 2-5 3-6 7, Gatens 7-15 5-6 22, Davis 3-6 2-2 8, Peterson 4-8 3-5 12, Kelly 1-3 0-0 2, Palmer 0-1 1-2 1, Bawinkel 1-4 0-0 3, Brommer 0-1 0-0 0, Fuller 2-5 0-0 5. Totals 20-48 14-21 60.
3-Pointers: Indiana 7-13 (Dumes 5-5, Roth 1-6, Story 1-2), Iowa 6-20 (Gatens 3-9, Bawinkel 1-3, Fuller 1-4, Peterson 1-2, Davis 0-2). Rebounds: Indiana 30 (Williams 9), Iowa 32 (Cole 6). Assists: Indiana 13 (Jones 6), Iowa 10 (Peterson 5, Kelly 5). Turnovers: Indiana 11, Iowa 14. Blocks: Indiana 4, Iowa 4. Steals: Indiana 6, Iowa 4. Halftime Score: Indiana 33, Iowa 20. Officials: Ted Hillary, John Hughes, Eric Curry. Attendance: 14,247.
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