Fans went crazy when Indiana knocked off top-ranked Kentucky with a buzzer beater on Saturday. Not only because it was an unlikely win - but because the victory showed the world that Indiana is back in the game. It was a last second holiday gift for Hoosier Nation.
Most predicted the University of Kentucky would easily defeat Indiana, but Hoosier fans ignored the critics. Down by two points with 5.6 seconds left, Indiana's Verdell Jones III drove the length of the court and kicked it out to junior Christian Watford who buried a three-pointer just before the buzzer. The capacity crowd in Assembly Hall rushed the court as Indiana stayed unbeaten with the 73-72 stunner over the Wildcats, who suffered their first loss of the season.
Coach Tom Crean seemed to be in near disbelief. There was near pandemonium as students jumped on the scoring tables, partied on campus all night and relived the moment all weekend. No doubt. Indiana is back.
The Hoosiers program, with all of its storied tradition, has spent a decade in the dumps. Led forever by arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time, Bob Knight, the once invincible program had fallen hard. That's a tough blow for a strangely basketball-obsessed state.
Since 2008, when NCAA violations and Kelvin Sampson's disgraced exit left Indiana with a giant hole to fill, fans have dealt with failure and frustration, wondering if the former powerhouse would ever be on top again.
Saturday's win erased all doubt. Jubilation spilled out onto the streets on Saturday and spread across campus as IU improved to 9-0 for the first time since the 1989-90 season, delivering a potential program-changing upset.
Two days after knocking off the No. 1 team in the nation for the first time since 2002, Indiana is back in the top 25 rankings This year the Hoosiers are 9-0, one of only nine teams in college basketball to still remain unbeaten.
Watford, who was named Big Ten Player of the Week, called his winning shot probably the most memorable moment of his life, definitely of his basketball career. And the future now looks bright for both Watford and the Wildcats.
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