MICHAEL MAROT, AP Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana’s Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell wanted the ball Thursday night.
After taking blow after blow in the second half from No. 4 Iowa, Ferrell finally found a way to punch back.
The senior point guard beat the defensive pressure, found open teammates and finished the game by making four straight free throws to help the Hoosiers rally for an 85-78 upset victory — after they had blown a 16-point lead.
“I felt like they hit us in the mouth a little bit tonight,” Ferrell said. “But against a great team like Iowa, you can’t get down and crumble, you’ve basically got to get up and keep fighting.”
He made sure none of the Hoosiers let their guard down after blowing a 16-point lead.
Instead, Indiana (20-5, 10-2) used a 14-2 run to erase a four-point deficit, seized control and moved into a share of the conference lead with the Hawkeyes and No. 2 Maryland.
Ferrell finished with 14 points and went 8 of 8 from the free-throw line, including two after he took an inadvertent shot to the face.
He also had plenty of help. Four other Indiana players reached double figures including Troy Williams, who had 13 points and seven rebounds, and Robert Johnson, who had 13 points and four rebounds.
Coach Tom Crean was more satisfied with how Ferrell found other ways to help his team on a poor shooting night.
“He wasn’t shooting the ball well, but he settled in, made his teammates better,” coach Tom Crean said after winning No. 20 for the fourth time in eight seasons with the Hoosiers. “That’s what he did tonight.”
Iowa coach Fran McCaffery also was impressed with Ferrell’s play in a game that lived up to its tough-guy billing.
Jarrod Uthoff led the Hawkeyes (19-5, 10-2) with 24 points, Mike Gesell had 17 points and Adam Woodbury finished with 13 points and tied a career high with 15 rebounds, and Peter Jok left for several minutes with what appeared to be a lower left leg injury before returning.
McCaffery also liked the way his team methodically trimmed the first-half deficit to 45-38 at the half and started the second half on a 9-0 run to take their first lead since the opening minutes.
“We responded like I hoped he would,” he said. “I thought we executed during that stretch much better than we did the rest of the game. I don’t think our execution was what it’s been and I don’t think you can beat a team of this caliber unless you’re executing better.”
The lack of execution allowed the Hoosiers to quickly turn things around.
Trailing 60-56 with 9:35 to go, little-used walk-on Harrison Niego made a 17-footer that got Indiana’s decisive run started. When it ended, with Ferrell’s 3-pointer, with 6:24 to go, the Hoosiers led 70-62. They never trailed again.
MAKING A POINT
Indiana’s depth was a major difference Thursday, too. The Hawkeyes’ backups were shut out 28-0. The other big difference showed up at the free-throw line. Indiana went 18 of 21, while the Hawkeyes were just 13 of 23.
How big was this game? A long line of students snaked through the parking lot at the south end of Assembly Hall long before the doors opened, and inside Indiana’s basketball arena, the group of former players in attendance included Dick and Tom Van Arsdale, the twin stars from the mid-1960s; Todd Lindeman, who played with the Hoosiers in 1990s, and Charlotte Hornets center Cody Zeller, who stayed home after helping beat the Pacers in Indianapolis on Wednesday.
Gesell played a major part in getting the Hawkeyes back in the game. He was 6 of 9 from the field, had six assists and made his only 3-point attempt. He also cracked the 1,000-point mark, finishing the game with 1,015. He nearly got another major milestone at Assembly Hall, finishing three assists short of No. 500.
Iowa: Had won 12 of its previous 17 true road games and is 4-2 outside Iowa City in league play. … The Hawkeyes made only two of their last eight shots. … The last time Iowa was in the Big Ten lead this late into the season was Feb. 23, 2006.
Indiana: Has beaten 20 ranked teams since 2011-12, the most in the Big Ten. … Indiana honored broadcaster Chuck Marlowe with a moment of silence before the game. He died this week. … The Hoosiers are 14-0 at home and have won all but one of those games by at least six points.
No. 4 Iowa hosts Minnesota on Sunday.
Indiana visits No. 8 Michigan State on Sunday.
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