No. 1 INDIANA 66, GEORGIA 53
By JIM O’CONNELL
NEW YORK — Indiana’s shots weren’t falling and the top-ranked Hoosiers were getting a taste of their own medicine with some tough man-to-man defense from Georgia.
It was just a matter of waiting, according to coach Tom Crean.
Victor Oladipo had 15 points and eight rebounds to lead Indiana to a 66-53 victory over Georgia on Monday night in the semifinals of the Progressive Legends Classic at the Barclays Center.
Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford both had 14 points for the Hoosiers (4-0) and they were the ones who finally started hitting from long range as Indiana established control of the game.
“We had a lot of energy sources tonight,” Crean said. “Vic at the start of the second half, he was tremendous. He’s one of the best defenders around no question, but he doesn’t get the credit for being a total basketball player. ... When he’s flying up the court he makes us a lot better.”
Then there are the missed shots.
“We just missed some shots. The thing that hurt us more was the eight turnovers. We could never get the pace going the way we wanted and give Georgia credit for that,” Crean said. “There weren’t many shots we’d take back, just a couple. It happens at home, on the road, here. It just happens.”
The Hoosiers, who came into the game shooting 39.4 percent from 3-point range missed 11 of the first 12 shots they took from behind the arc. Watford hit a 3 with 10:06 left to end the shooting slump and extended Indiana’s lead to 45-40.
Hulls hit 3s on consecutive possessions to make it 51-42 and Oladipo scored down low with 7:00 left for the first double-digit lead of the game by either team, 53-42. The Hoosiers went on to lead by as many as 17 points.
“We did a lot more in the second half,” Hulls said. “In the first half the shots weren’t falling and that’s going to happen. We play with more intensity when the shots aren’t falling and that usually means we’re playing good defense.
The Hoosiers will face the winner of the game between No. 11 UCLA and Georgetown for the title on Tuesday night.
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Vincent Williams both had 14 points for Georgia (1-3), which lost its third straight.
“That was a very hard fought game, one we thought we could win and the real difference, I thought, was their experience really started to show,” Georgia coach Mark Fox said. “We had a lot of inexperience plays, several possessions where we didn’t keep our poise and they capitalized on some immature mistakes we made in the second half.”
Indiana finished 5 of 16 from 3-point range (31.3 percent) and the Hoosiers had a 40-24 advantage on the boards. They overcame an off night by 7-foot preseason All-America Cody Zeller who was 2 for 4 from the field for six points and had four rebounds and four turnovers.
Zeller was limited to 9 minutes in the first half because of foul trouble.
“They came out and defended very well,” Zeller said. “The foul problems could have taken me out of the flow a little bit, but in the second half we started to play the way we do.”
Indiana shot 44.9 percent overall (22 of 49) while Georgia shot 34.0 percent (22 of 49) including going 9 of 25 on 3s.
“We started slow out of the gate this season and played very poorly,” Fox said. “For 30 minutes tonight we looked like the team we thought we could be but we just couldn’t make it last all game. The key is to learn to play 40 minutes, not 30 and that is the next step for our group.”
The Bulldogs are 0-14 all-time against No. 1-ranked teams.