Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Sports

Hoosiers rally for Big Ten title

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Cody Zeller squeezed the basketball as the final seconds ticked off the clock, sealing Indiana's first outright Big Ten title in two decades.

It was a fitting finish. Without some huge plays by their 7-foot center, the second-ranked Hoosiers would have had to share the conference championship.

Zeller made a go-ahead layup with 13 seconds left and altered Trey Burke's shot at the other end, lifting Indiana to a 72-71 victory over No. 7 Michigan on Sunday.

After falling out of bounds on the final sequence, Zeller recovered and gave teammate Christian Watford someone to save the ball to at the end.

"We've been working on that all year, closing out games," said Zeller, who had 25 points and 10 rebounds.

The Hoosiers (26-5, 14-4) trailed by five in the final minute but took advantage when the Wolverines (25-6, 12-6) failed to close it out at the free-throw line, costing themselves a piece of the Big Ten title.

Jordan Morgan had a fairly easy tip-in attempt of Burke's miss that could have won it, but the ball rolled tantalizingly around the rim and off.

"It just hung there," Burke said.

Watford got to the rebound — Indiana had 23 more boards than Michigan — with four seconds left and threw it back in bounds to Zeller.

"Christian made a great play that people might not realize, saving the ball to Cody," Hoosiers guard Jordan Hulls said.

Ohio State, which beat Illinois on Sunday, needed an Indiana loss to earn a share of the conference title. Michigan State was in the same position before defeating Northwestern later in the day.

The Hoosiers had already clinched a share of the title, for the first time since 2002, but needed another victory to finish alone atop the conference for the first time since 1993.

"In retrospect, that'll be good and that'll sink in," Indiana coach Tom Crean said.

Indiana's 26th victory, and the fact that it withstood test after test in the highly competitive Big Ten, might have earned the Hoosiers a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. They will be the top-seeded team at this week's Big Ten tournament in Chicago.

"We're not done yet," Hulls said.

Afterward, Crean and Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer — a Hoosiers assistant on Kelvin Sampson's staff from 2006-08 — had a heated exchange. Neither would comment.

NO. 10 MICH. ST. 71, N'WESTERN 61: Keith Appling scored 16 and Gary Harris added 12 to lift the host Spartans (24-7, 13-5 Big Ten).

NO. 14 OHIO ST. 68, ILLINOIS 55: Deshaun Thomas scored 19 in perhaps his final home game for the Buckeyes (23-7, 13-5 Big Ten), who won their fifth in a row.

TEMPLE 84, NO. 21 VCU 76: Khalif Wyatt scored 30 for the host Owls, who erased a 16-point first-half deficit and denied the Rams (24-7, 12-4) a share of the Atlantic 10 title with Saint Louis.

NO. 22 WISCONSIN 63, PENN ST. 60: Traevon Jackson made a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer and finished with 15 points, and the visiting Badgers (21-10, 12-6 Big Ten) survived an upset scare.

BIG SOUTH: John Caleb Sanders had 27 points, Davon Marshall added 20 off six 3-pointers and Liberty, the fifth seed (out of six) in the North Division, defeated South top seed Charleston Southern 87-76 in Conway, S.C. The Flames (15-20), who are coached by former Eckerd assistant Dale Layer, had an RPI of 299 going in, which would be the worst for an NCAA Tournament team in the past 20 years.

MISSOURI VALLEY: Jahenns Manigat scored a season-best 16 and hit a layup with 11 seconds left that lifted top-seeded Creighton (27-7) past Wichita State 68-65 in St. Louis for its second straight tournament title.

SSC: Seth Evans had 26 points and made 6 of 17 3-pointers as second-seeded Florida Southern (24-5) rallied to beat fifth-seeded Rollins 72-66 in the championship game in Kissimmee.

ECKERD, SAINT LEO GET CALL: Eckerd and Saint Leo received at-large bids to the NCAA Division II Tournament and will open play Saturday in Lakeland in the South Region. The third-seeded Tritons will face Benedict and the fourth-seeded Lions will play Rollins.

AREA STAR to the rescue: Former Gibbs standout Quincy Ford hit a tying layup with 57 seconds left and had three steals in the final 2½ minutes for top-seeded Northeastern (20-11), which beat George Mason 69-67 in the Colonial Athletic Association semifinals after trailing by 24 in the first half. The Huskies face third-seeded James Madison today in Richmond, Va.

LATE SATURDAY: Elias Harris had 21 points and eight rebounds to lead No. 1 Gonzaga over Loyola Marymount 66-48 in Las Vegas, sending the Bulldogs (30-2) into tonight's West Coast Conference tournament final against Saint Mary's.

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