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Hoosiers "respond" in OT win

Jordan Hulls (1) scored 17 points Tuesday night, including several crucial baskets and free throws late, helping IU to the Legends Classic title in an 82-72 win over Georgetown. Hulls was named tournament MVP.

No. 1 Indiana (5-0) got all it wanted from a feisty Georgetown squad in the final game of the Legends Classic on Tuesday night, losing a late lead and getting pushed to overtime before icing the game at the free-throw line.

Jordan Hulls and Cody Zeller each scored 17 points on the night, the former shooting 5-of-8 from the floor and the latter pulling in eight rebounds in an 82-72 win. After the game, Hulls was named MVP of the Classic overall, and Zeller made its all-tournament team.

Perhaps Indiana’s greatest test of the evening came in simply picking itself up after surrendering a seven-point lead in the last 78 seconds of the game.

The Hoosiers led 63-56 after Zeller hit the second of two free throws with 1:18 remaining, but Georgetown (3-1) answered with a Greg Whittington jumper and back-to-back 3-pointers — one each from Markel Starks and Otto Porter — sandwiched around a missed Yogi Ferrell free throw, to bring the game within one.

Indiana’s freshman point guard then made just 1-of-2 at the charity stripe on IU’s next possession, and Porter sank a driving layup to tie the game at 64 apiece. A late layup attempt by Zeller came late of the buzzer and fell short of the rim.

“This team responded,” IU coach Tom Crean told Andy Katz just after the game.

Crean’s boast was not unwarranted, as from the overtime tip — which Zeller won — Indiana controlled the rest of the way.

Already in the double bonus, the Hoosiers shot 13-of-17 from the free-throw line and outscored the Hoyas by 17 points overall in that column, making 26-of-36 free throws on the night. IU also shot 10-of-17 from behind the 3-point line.

Indiana got Georgetown’s best shot early, as the Hoyas began the game hot from behind the 3-point line. Normally methodical and measured, Georgetown — one night after upsetting No. 11 UCLA — scored 23 points in the game’s opening 9 1/2 minutes, helped on by five made 3-pointers in that stretch.

As Indiana settled into its zone, the Hoosiers found better defensive rhythm, and they used the 3-point shooting abilities of Hulls and Christian Watford to keep the game close, eventually winding up with a 36-32 lead at halftime.

The pace slowed after the break, with neither side finding an effective route through the other’s zone defense. Both sides traded scores intermittently, Indiana at one point going nearly 5 1/2 minutes without a made field goal and Georgetown being held completely scoreless for nearly six minutes in the game’s final 10.

Hulls and Ferrell controlled the game well, displaying patience against Georgetown’s zone and keeping the ball moving around the perimeter. Indiana appeared to have taken control of the game before the frantic final minute saw Georgetown force overtime.

From that point, thanks in no small part to the reliable free-throw shooting that at times abandoned the Hoosiers in the second half, Indiana controlled the rest of the way, protecting its No. 1 ranking for another night.

“The target’s big. That’s the way it is at Indiana,” Crean said, when asked about how his team handles being No. 1 overall. “Our guys come to Indiana for that and with that in mind, and for games tonight.”

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