After an embarrassing first-game exit from the Big Ten Tournament last week, Indiana made sure its stay in the NCAA tournament will last a little longer.
The Hoosiers absolutely routed Chattanooga, 99-74, avoiding the upsets that hit a couple other No. 5 seeds on the first day of the NCAA tournament and advancing to the Round of 32, where they could see regional foe Kentucky.
Indiana was astounding shooting the ball, posting a sterling 64.9-percent mark from the field and going 10-for-16 from 3-point range. Five Hoosiers scored in double figures, led by the sensational evening for Yogi Ferrell, who recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 assists.
The Hoosiers didn’t exactly break away from the Mocs early, with Chattanooga hanging around and as close as three as late as four minutes remaining before halftime. But Indiana blitzed from a 33-30 score with 13 of the final 20 points in the half and led by nine at the break.
After shooting 60.7 percent over the first 20 minutes, the Hoosiers cranked it up in the second half, running away and hiding from Chattanooga over the final 20 minutes. Indiana shot a jaw-dropping 69 percent from the field in the second half and outscored Chattanooga, 53-37, after halftime.
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The Hoosiers scored 21 points off 15 Mocs turnovers and won the rebounding battles, 30-24.
Ferrell’s 20 points gave him his 10th 20-point performance of the season, and his double-double was his first of the year. He also hit four 3-pointers. Joining Ferrell in double figures OG Anunoby (14), Thomas Bryant (13), Troy Williams (12) and Max Bielfeldt (10). Nick Zeisloft had nine points, all coming on a trio of made 3s.
The win sends Indiana on to the Round of 32, where it could meet Kentucky. Despite being located just three hours apart, the two teams haven’t played since 2012, an NCAA tournament game won by the Wildcats. The two teams played earlier that season in Bloomington, the last regular-season meeting between the schools. The teams met annually since 1969 in a series that dates back to 1924. But it’s been a few years. Kentucky holds a 32-24 edge in the series.
Thursday’s win was Indiana’s first in the NCAA tournament since 2013. Last year, the Hoosiers were eliminated in the first round by Wichita State, and they missed the Big Dance altogether in 2014.