Indiana tried to give it away, but Notre Dame gave it right back.
The Hoosiers watched a 17 point second half lead vanish in just over ten minutes, and for the second straight year at The Crossroads Classic, it took heroics from a true freshman to pull out a dramatic win in the final seconds.
In the end, IU did what it has done in 11 of 12 games to start the season. They won, 62-60 in Indianapolis. Now with another week off to work through the details, the Hoosiers will have plenty of time to figure out why things got so interesting down the stretch against the Fighting Irish.
Indiana (11-1, 1-1) will host Arkansas in their final non-conference game at 6 p.m. ET on Dec. 29 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Leading 42-25 with 15:54 to go in the game, Indiana might have played its best 24 minutes of basketball this season. With 5:00 remaining, IU was down a point.
The change in fortunes happened so fast, and was so dramatic, that it was difficult to process.
“Thought we played really well for I guess 25 to 27, 28 minutes of the game,” IU head coach Archie Miller said after the game.
The Irish went on a 32-10 run to go up by five points with less than four minutes remaining, and things looked dire.
After John Mooney gave Notre Dame its biggest lead at 59-54 with two free throws with 3:42 left, the teams exchanged turnovers. True freshman Armaan Franklin hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to 59-57 with 2:49 to go. IU forced another Irish turnover but Jackson-Davis missed an inside shot. Then Franklin drew an offensive foul with 1:38 to go and another true freshman, Trayce Jackson-Davis, tied the game with a minute left on a dunk.
After Notre Dame made 1-of-2 free throws to go back up by a point, junior guard Al Durham made the extra pass to Franklin in the corner who buried the game winner for IU with 15 seconds remaining.
With four seconds left, Jackson-Davis blocked Mooney’s game tying attempt as IU took possession.
IU outscored the Irish 8-1 in the game’s final 3:42.
On a day where Al Durham, Rob Phinisee and Justin Smith combined to go 3-of-22 from the field, you would expect some overall offensive struggles, and Indiana had them. IU only shot 41 percent from the field for the game. That was the second worst performance on the season, with only the Hoosiers’ percentage against UConn being lower.
The Hoosiers also were not able to rely on a staple of their offense — the free throw line.
Notre Dame came into the game with one of the lowest foul rates in the country while IU had shot more free throws than anyone. The Irish prevailed in that battle of contrasting styles.
“The free throw disparity tonight indicates that obviously Notre Dame has sort of won on that style,” Miller said. “They don’t typically foul a whole lot, so it’s hard, and when we struggle to score, sort of the MO is find a way to get to the foul line. That wasn’t really happening tonight, getting to the foul line, so in those long droughts we weren’t able to chop it up and get a couple free throws here and there. You get fouled and you’re able to go four free throws in a row. We just weren’t able to consistently get to the line in that stretch where our offense wasn’t functioning real well.”
A struggling offense was the primary culprit during the run that saw Notre Dame wipe out Indiana’s big lead in the blink of an eye. The Irish got stops on the defensive end and turned that into transition offense going the other way.
Jackson-Davis attributed the offensive struggles to selfish play.
“There were some times where our team was selfish, but we got that worked out in the final two minutes,” Jackson-Davis said. “We were swinging the ball and the extra pass Al made was just a great example of how the last two minutes were.”
It wasn’t all bad of course, Indiana took care of the basketball for the most part and they were highly impactful on the offensive glass.
“We only turned it over 12 times. That’s good,” Miller said. … “We were able to be plus 10 on the backboard.” Indiana had 15 offensive rebounds on the day.
Of course when it counted the most, IU found a way to produce points in the game’s final minutes.
“Now, last three or four minutes we were better. We were able to get the ball where we wanted to get to. We got clean looks,” Miller said.
Coming into the game, a major point of emphasis for IU was guarding against an onslaught of three-pointers from Notre Dame.
The Irish shot just 6-of-27 for 22.2 percent from long range on the day, and just 37.5 percent overall for the game.
Even when Notre Dame went on their big second half run, it wasn’t so much about the defense as it was IU’s own offensive struggles leading to scoring opportunities on the other end.
“We let our offense sort of frustrate us, and against that type of team with the way that they shoot and do some things, they can get back in it quick, and I thought we gave them a lot of opportunities to do that, with not getting back, not being organized,” Miller said.
Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey agreed, noting that their ability to get steps allowed the Irish to get moving downhill much quicker going the other way.
“We had nine out of ten stops, and so we didn’t have to take the ball out of bounds and play against the set defense, and we got some early offense,” Brey said.
The Hoosiers didn’t force a lot of turnovers on the day, but they were fundamentally sound, especially in the halfcourt, and for the most part IU was able to keep the ball in front of them on the bounce.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score and specialty stats
- Archie Miller and IU players post-game
- Mike Brey post-game
- Snapshot: Indiana finds its footing against Irish
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Joey Brunk* (A-) He went a little quiet in the second half, but Brunk really set the tone from an effort standpoint with an 8 point and 11 rebound first half. He ended the game with a career high 14 rebounds, and 4 more than Mooney who came into the contest leading the nation.
- Justin Smith* (B-) Smith struggled on the offensive end, putting up a lot of contested shots, but he was a major factor on the defensive end.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis* (A-) Another efficient day from the field, and some key plays down the stretch on both ends of the floor.
- Devonte Green* (B) The three-point shot wasn’t falling and he had a few lapses in judgment, but all-in-all a solid contribution from Green on both ends.
- Al Durham* (B-) Not a strong day from the field, but Durham had a lot of positive contributions including of course the game-winning assist.
- Rob Phinisee (C) The rare day where Phinisee just couldn’t get anything going and wasn’t a net positive for the Hoosiers.
- Armaan Franklin (A) How valuable was he? Franklin checked in at the 7:53 mark in the first half with the Hoosiers up by one and he scored six-straight points to put IU up 23-16 with six minutes remaining in the half. Franklin also scored six of the final eight points for IU in the game. This from a player that was shooting 14 percent from three-point range coming into the day.
- Jerome Hunter (B-) The wait for the Jerome Hunter breakout game continues, but the positive is that the coaching staff is still confident in the redshirt freshman.
- Race Thompson, Damezi Anderson, and De’Ron Davis also appeared in the game for brief stints.
Note: The Hoosiers are 6-3 in the Crossroads Classic with the win. The victory marks the third straight in the Classic for IU and the third-straight win in the Classic over Notre Dame. Miller is also 3-0 in the event.
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