The Indiana Hoosiers have developed yet another game-changing offensive star.
Already boasting national honors candidates Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo, now the Hoosiers have an explosive scoring threat in freshman Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell. The 6-foot point guard scored a season-high 19 points to help No. 1 Indiana defeat Iowa 73-60 on Saturday night.
Zeller led the Hoosiers with 22 points and 10 rebounds, but Ferrell was the one who got Iowa coach Fran McCaffery's attention. He said Ferrell has improved since Indiana held off Iowa 69-65 on New Year's Eve in Iowa City.
"I think Yogi is a little bit of a different player," McCaffery said. "I think early on, he was more of a facilitator. Now, he's a big-time weapon."
Indiana coach Tom Crean said Ferrell has worked to improve his game, and he has been rewarded with a greater role.
"He's really grown," Crean said. "When we had to take him out, our offense didn't move as well. He's just a two-way player. The decision-making continues to improve."
Victor Oladipo added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Hoosiers (25-4, 13-3 Big Ten).
Roy Devyn Marble scored 20 points, Aaron White had 14 and Eric May added 12 for Iowa (18-11, 7-9), which had won four of five.
It was Indiana's first game since losing 77-73 at Minnesota on Tuesday. It was the fourth time this season the Hoosiers followed a loss with a victory.
"You can't do anything about the past," Ferrell said. "Coach says just move onto the next game."
It wasn't pretty. The Hoosiers shot just 38 percent from the field.
"They're a tough team," Zeller said. "They'll fight you until the end. They run their stuff well. That's a good team."
Iowa started the second half with two quick buckets to cut Indiana's lead to 26-18. The Hawkeyes threatened to close the gap numerous times early in the second half but never got that momentum-changing bucket. Zeller scored in close just over five minutes into the second half to give the Hoosiers a 37-23 lead.
Marble left the game midway through the second half after apparently twisting his right ankle. He returned to the sideline a few minutes later.
A 3-point play by Zeller pushed Indiana's lead to 50-33 with 9:27 to play.
Will Sheehey found Zeller cutting on the baseline, and Zeller's two-handed jam gave the Hoosiers a 59-42 lead with 6:16 remaining.
Iowa cut Indiana's lead to 62-52 on a dunk by May, and the Hawkeyes had a chance to trim their deficit to single digits on their next possession. Instead, Oladipo got a steal and Sheehey made a layup on the other end to push Indiana's lead back to 12 points with just under four minutes to play.
Oladipo made Indiana's first 3-pointer of the night with 49 seconds remaining to give the Hoosiers a 70-56 lead, and Ferrell made another 3 for Indiana in the final 10 seconds.
Indiana held Iowa to 38 percent shooting from the field and forced 19 turnovers, allowing the Hoosiers to survive their offensive struggles.
"We had to work through our offense not being where it needed to be," Crean said. "Our defense never wavered, and that's the sign of a mature team. They understand they can't win without it. That's the story of the game."
McCaffery was issued a technical foul for his conversation with the officials with 10:26 left in the first half, but that couldn't even get the Hawkeyes going.
Indiana's offense, stagnant for much of the first half, showed some flair when Sheehey's behind-the-back pass found a cutting Zeller, whose two-handed dunk electrified what had been a mostly quiet crowd and gave the Hoosiers a 17-8 lead.
A reverse layup by Derek Elston gave the Hoosiers a 24-14 lead, and Indiana led 26-14 at the break. Iowa didn't score for the final 4:17 of the first half.
It was Iowa's lowest-scoring half of the season. The Hawkeyes were 7 of 24 from the field and committed 14 turnovers before the break.
"I wouldn't call it a freeze-up, I would call it a really good defensive effort by a terrific defensive team," McCaffery said.