Hoosiers Don't Turn Over New Leaf In Indy

Indianapolis - Indiana's final game ended the same way that its season did – with a thud. Leading 45-39 seven minutes into the second half, Indiana was outscored 34-13 the rest of the way as Northwestern (20-12) advanced to face Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals with a 73-58 win over Indiana...

Indianapolis - Indiana's final game ended the same way that its season did – with a thud.

Leading 45-39 seven minutes into the second half, Indiana was outscored 34-13 the rest of the way as Northwestern (20-12) advanced to face Purdue in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals with a 73-58 win over Indiana.

While Northwestern avenged an eight-point overtime loss to IU five days earlier and celebrated its first-ever 20-win season, Indiana (10-21) was left to reflect on a season that ended with 12 losses in its last 13 games.

It was also the IU program's fifth consecutive loss in the Big Ten Tournament, dating back to the Mike Davis tenure in 2006.

"We lost in the first round again," said Verdell Jones, trying to compare last year's first-round Big Ten exit to this season's. "It's very disappointing."

Northwestern didn't get things done in a conventional way. Generally a team that relies on the 3-point shot, the Wildcats missed 22 of its first 24 attempts from behind the 3-point arc, and needed some late makes to finish 7-of-31 from deep. Big Ten Freshman of the Year Drew Crawford, second-team All-Big Ten pick John Shurna and senior Jeremy Nash – three of the team's top 3-point shooters – combined to go just 1-16 from deep.

Those perimeter problems led Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody to joke about why he's always voted for Chicago to be the host city for the Big Ten Tournament instead of Indianapolis.

"(When we were missing from 3-point range) I was thinking of Reggie Miller - how's he make all those shots.?" Carmody joked. "In all the years we've played here… I hate the rims. Nothing against the city. I just hate the rims. But we were able to get some stuff inside."

Northwestern got some things inside thanks to what it was able to do on the defensive end. The Wildcats' late-game flourish started with a 10-0 run that included a couple of transition baskets and four free throws. Eight of those points came off Indiana turnovers, as IU turned it over 13 times in the final 20 minutes compared to only one for Northwestern.

"The story of the game for us, we were up six and then had six turnovers and in four minutes and went down four," IU Coach Tom Crean said, referring to the start of Northwestern's run that produced its first lead of the game. "The turnovers came at tough times for us."

They came at tough times, and they came in bunches. Five days after blitzing Northwestern for eight 3-pointers and 24 points, Jordan Hulls had more turnovers Thursday (four) than points (three). Devan Dumes had four miscues of his own in just 11 minutes, while Derek Elston's blip on a 10-point, nine-rebound performance was four turnovers.

The end result was a 29-5 edge for Northwestern in points off turnover, including a 21-0 edge in the second half.

"Our turnovers were the biggest thing," said Verdell Jones, who had 20 points, six assists, and just one turnover. "They got 29 points off turnovers. If you want to win any game that's unacceptable."

The rash of turnovers also ate away at some of the confidence that Indiana had built with what it was able to do on the defensive end. Playing a zone virtually throughout, Indiana made the points hard to come by for Northwestern in the early going.

"When you're turning it over like we were you lose your confidence so fast because they're getting easy baskets," Crean said.

While it was the turnovers and subsequent easy baskets that allowed Northwestern to erase the Indiana lead, it was eventually Northwestern guard Michael Thompson that put Indiana away. Held to three points in the game's first 31 minutes, Thompson scored 13 points in the final nine minutes, including a trio of 3-pointers that kept Indiana from having any chance to slowing the Wildcats' momentum.

Now, Northwestern carries that momentum into Friday's match-up with Purdue while Indiana heads into an off-season that Crean was already thinking about minutes after the game ended. The Hoosier coach was talking about the need for his players to get stronger, for his young big men to develop, and for his staff to hit the recruiting trail hard to find some additional talent.

But Crean wasn't welcoming the end of his second season as Hoosier coach.

"I've enjoyed this team, enjoyed coaching them," Crean said.

INDIANA 58
Watford 3-11 2-2 9, Elston 5-9 0-0 10, Jobe 0-0 0-0 0, Hulls 1-3 2-2 5, Jones 5-12 7-8 20, Barnett 0-0 0-0 0, Finkelmeier 0-0 0-0 0, Rivers 3-4 0-0 6, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Muniru 0-0 0-0 0, Capobianco 0-2 1-2 1, Pritchard 2-2 1-2 5, Dumes 1-3 0-1 2. Totals 20-46 13-17 58.

NORTHWESTERN 73
Shurna 5-13 4-4 14, Mirkovic 0-0 0-0 0, Crawford 2-7 1-2 6, Thompson 6-15 0-0 16, Nash 4-10 5-6 14, Capocci 1-1 2-2 4, Marcotullio 3-8 0-0 8, Hearn 0-0 0-0 0, Fruendt 0-0 0-0 0, Peljusic 0-0 0-0 0, Culetti 3-4 6-6 12, Rowley 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 24-58 18-20 73.

3-Pointers: Indiana 5-15 (Jones 3-6, Hulls 1-3, Watford 1-3, Dumes 0-2, Elston 0-1), Northwestern 7-31 (Thompson 4-10, Marcotullio 2-5, Crawford 1-5, Shurna 0-6, Nash 0-5). Rebounds: Indiana 33 (Elston 9), Northwestern 31 (Shurna 7). Assists: Indiana 10 (Jones 6), Northwestern 17 (Marcotullio 5). Turnovers: Indiana 19, Northwestern 7. Blocks: Indiana 2 (Watford, Elston), Northwestern 5 (Curletti, Shurna, Capocci, Crawford, Mirkovic). Steals: Indiana 2, Northwestern 10. Officials: Curtis Shaw, Ray Perone, Tim Hutchinson.


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