NEW YORK — No. 1 Indiana survived its first major test of the season early Wednesday, winning a wild, back-and-forth tussle with Georgetown in overtime in the championship game of the Progressive Legends Classic at Barclays Center.
The game started shortly after 10 p.m. Tuesday and didn’t end until about 12:40 a.m. Wednesday as the Hoosiers won 82-72.
“Our guys just went out and played a high-level team in a high-level way,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “It’s a program win for us. A program championship for us.”
While the Hoosiers have a star-studded roster led by player-of-the-year candidate Cody Zeller, in the end, it was freshman Yogi Ferrell who made the biggest plays against the Hoyas.
Ferrell missed two of three foul shots in the final minute of regulation to open the door for a Hoyas comeback, but he redeemed himself with seven overtime points, including a three from the right wing as the shot clock expired that gave Indiana its biggest lead of the game at 78-68.
Describing his short-term memory loss after the missed foul shots, Ferrell said, “You can’t think of the play before. Putting it in the past is the best way to win.”
The Hoosiers scored six quick points to begin the overtime session, but they didn’t step on the Hoyas’ jugular until Ferrell drained his three with 58 seconds left in OT.
“When I came off (the screen), I heard the coaches saying, ‘Shoot it!’” said Ferrell, who had 14 points and four assists. “I pretty much just let it go, but it did feel good. It was kind of a prayer shot, but I’m glad it went in.”
Adding Ferrell’s level-headed direction to a backcourt that already includes tournament MVP Jordan Hulls (17 points) should make the Hoosiers (5-0) very formidable by tournament time. Zeller had 17 points and eight rebounds for Indiana, Victor Oladipo scored 12, and Christian Watford added 10 and 10 rebounds. Markel Starks topped the Hoyas (3-1) with 20.
When Indiana took its largest lead at 59-51 with 4:03 left, the Hoosiers seemed in control. But the Hoyas put together a 13-5 run send the game to overtime tied at 64.
With Indiana up two, Otto Porter made the tying layup with 4.6 seconds showing.
Porter said there was no consideration of going for the win with a three-pointer. “The design was to go to the hole,” Porter said. “I saw a little opening, and I took it.”
Zeller missed a shot in the lane as the buzzer sounded to end regulation.
But it was all Hoosiers in the extra period as the Hoyas went 0-for-7 from the field. Indiana made 13 of 17 foul shots in overtime and 26 of 36 for the game.
“We were fortunate to be in it with them going to the line 36 times,” Hoyas coach John Thompson III said. “They make most of their foul shots. But they’ve gotten to the line all year. I’m not sure what we could have done differently.”