St. John's-Indiana Preview
After falling apart down the stretch against a seemingly inferior opponent, the 13th-ranked Hoosiers look to bounce back Tuesday when they face St. John's at the Maui Invitational.
Indiana (3-1) beat Eastern Illinois, Austin Peay and Creighton by an average of 28.7 points before entering this tournament and was the clear favorite to defeat Wake Forest in Monday's first-round matchup.
The Hoosiers, though, trailed by five at the half and blew a seven-point lead with 4:50 left in an 82-78 loss to a Demon Deacons team that had beaten UMBC and Bucknell by a combined 11 points before losing to Richmond by nine in its previous game.
Bryant Crawford's layup with 3.2 seconds left gave Wake Forest the lead for good before the Hoosiers had a long inbounds pass intercepted. Troy Williams led Indiana with 16 points and Robert Johnson added 14 off the bench.
''We learned a hard lesson,'' said forward Max Bielfeldt, who had 11 points. ''Being in the losers' bracket isn't something we planned for. Things didn't go our way.''
Thomas Bryant, who hit 16 of 20 from the field while averaging 13.0 points in his first three, scored eight on 2-of-5 shooting. James Blackmon Jr. entered averaging 18.7 points, but he hit 1 of 8 from the floor - 1 of 6 from 3-point range - and finished with five while turning it over four times.
Yogi Ferrell didn't have a turnover in a season-high 36 minutes, but he scored a season-low 11 points.
''We played well for 16 minutes in the second half,'' coach Tom Crean said. ''You can't beat anybody with 16 good minutes especially at Maui.
''Once we got the nine-point lead we stopped doing the things that got us that lead. I'm disappointed. I'm disappointed we didn't play the way we should have.''
Instead of a semifinal showdown with No. 19 Vanderbilt, the Hoosiers have to settle for a consolation bracket matchup against a St. John's team that was routed by the Commodores earlier Monday.
The Red Storm (3-1) allowed the game's first nine points, trailed 27-4 in the first half and wound up falling 92-55. The defeat nearly matched the worst in school history, when they fell by 41 to Kentucky in 1951.
Freshman Federico Mussini scored 14 points and is averaging a team-best 15.8, but he's hit 8 of 27 from the field over his last two games after making 52.4 percent over the first two.
St. John's has shot 31.1 percent in the last two games, falling behind early in both. It trailed by 16 points in the second half Thursday against Rutgers before rallying for a 61-59 win.
''You have to learn from a game like this and move on,'' first-year coach Chris Mullin said. ''It was (Vanderbilt's) length that hurt us. That was the best team we played against. It's about what happens from here. How do we come back from this? We'll watch film tonight and come back tomorrow.''
St. John's beat Indiana 86-61 in the second round of the NCAA Tournament in the last meeting March 13, 1999.