Upon Further Review: Kentucky

Maurice Creek dazzled with a 31-point barrage, but it wasn't nearly enough as Kentucky handed the Hoosiers a 90-73 loss Saturday afternoon. Hoosier Nation looks back at the loss and talks about what we found to be most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Maurice Creek. If people around the country weren't familiar with Creek before this game, they are now after the Hoosier freshman poured in 31 on 9-of-14 shooting, including 5-of-8 from 3-point range. Creek's 10 points in the first five minutes enabled the Hoosiers to open a 17-9 lead, and Kentucky really had no answer for him all afternoon. His 31 points was the most scored by an IU player since Eric Gordon scored 31 against Illinois State on Nov. 23, 2007. IU Coach Tom Crean has had a first hand look at Creek throughout the season so his play wasn't much of a surprise to him, but he clearly impressed UK Coach John Calipari, who said he's as good as any player the Wildcats have played this season. Considering UK has played North Carolina and UConn, among others, that's saying something about Creek's performance.

Biggest Surprise… The inability of anyone other than Creek to do much of anything offensively. Balance has been one of the strengths of this year's team, but it was lacking Saturday. Three of Indiana's five starters entered the game averaging at least 12 points per game, and five Hoosiers averaged more than seven points per outing, but no one other than Creek scored more than seven. As might be expected, Christian Watford had a tough time with All-American Patrick Patterson and was limited to seven in 18 minutes before fouling out. Fresh off his 20-point effort against Pitt, Verdell Jones was able to do very little against Kentucky and finished with only six. Off the bench, Jordan Hulls contributed a couple of 3-pointers and Derek Elston had six rebounds, but no one proved to be a reliable second scoring option behind Creek.

What I Found Most Impressive… Unlike the last time these two teams squared off, there was no deer in the headlights from the Hoosiers from the opening tip. A great deal has been made about the fourth-ranked Wildcats, and they're clearly the biggest, fastest, and most skilled team Indiana has played to date. But Indiana punched Kentucky in the mouth early, making five of its first six shots on its way to a quick 17-9 lead. A year ago, a much-less talented Kentucky team scored the first 14 points against Indiana and led 32-6 midway through the first half. This time around, the young Hoosier squad played with a level of confidence that belies the struggles the team has endured over the last year and a half. The win earlier in the week against Pitt certainly contributed to that, but it's clear that Crean and his staff have this team believing it's capable of competing with anyone on its schedule.

What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana simply had no answer for Kentucky on the glass. DeMarcus Cousins and Patrick Patterson were bigger, stronger and more physical than IU's frontline players, and the end result was a 49-24 disparity in rebounding. Afterwards, freshman Derek Elston – who led Indiana with six rebounds – said the game showed that IU has to get bigger and stronger as it moves forward. That will eventually happen, but there won't be huge strides made in that area during the course of the season. Indiana might not go up against a more imposing frontline the rest of the year, but it will go up against some big physical frontlines when it gets into conference when one considers the likes of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan State, among others. The Hoosiers will need to find a way to compete on the glass despite that deficiency, because they can't beat teams getting dominated on the glass they way they did Saturday.

Turning Point: After Jeremiah Rivers drove the lane and delivered both a layup and a blow to DeMarcus Cousins' mouth to give IU a 48-47 lead two minutes into the second half, Kentucky scored the next 18 points to take control of the game. A John Wall dunk gave the Wildcats' the lead back, and Eric Bledsoe knocked down a three to push the lead to four. Bledsoe would add another 3-pointer and finished off the flurry with a dunk to give Kentucky a 65-48 lead with 12:40 remaining. While Kentucky was busy scoring on seven of nine possessions, Indiana came up empty on eight straight trips.


"Creek was so good, all we said was don't even worry about playing anybody, don't help, and just play him. Then the first play of the half, Eric (Bledsoe) left him and gave him a three. I said, ‘Did I even talk at halftime or were you not listening?'" – UK Coach John Calipari

"Them coming out and trying to punch us in the mouth was the best thing for our team and for us to learn what we were." – Calipari

"It didn't matter what defense we were in, we were a day late and a dollar short on our close-outs and we moved on the catch rather than the pass. It doesn't matter what defense you're in, you can't be late." – IU Coach Tom Crean

"There were definitely some good things in this game for us. We proved that when we come out and we are aggressive, and we are confident and we move the basketball we can make plays." – Crean

"We gave effort, as anyone can see. We played with a lot of effort and heart. But Kentucky did a great job of rebounding, and we got out-boarded, and they had a couple of 3-point plays and they spread the lead out." – Maurice Creek

"I don't it was that they were bigger, I think they were more focused on getting the rebound more than us. That's a time thing. We have to work on it and get better at it." – Creek

"Once they got going, we got a little tired and they kept running. Bledsoe, he took off." – Derek Elston

"I kind of pointed out in the huddle that we had to go (at the basket) with a purpose. Once we started going, we started getting fouls. But it wasn't only getting there, we had to finish. I know we missed a lot of free throws today, and that was a problem." Elston

"We were disappointed. Every time you lose you're going to be mad. Being the rivalry that it is with Kentucky, that made it even worse. And they're ranked real high and we were right in the game with them." – Jordan Hulls

"Around the boards, none of us did a good job at it. We didn't have an urgency for it, and we got man-handled." – Jeremiah Rivers

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