INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Kevin ”Yogi” Ferrell figured Indiana had taken enough punches from No. 23 Butler.
So the junior point guard and teammate Troy Williams fought back in the second half Saturday. Eventually, they combined to deliver a knockout blow.
Williams matched his career high with 22 points, and Ferrell scored 12 of his 20 points during a crucial second-half run to help send the Hoosiers past No. 23 Butler 82-73.
”I just wanted to be a little bit more aggressive in the second half,” Ferrell said after spending the first half in foul trouble. ”I felt like there were a lot more drives in the second half and once we started knocking down a few shots, I felt like the game opened up for us.”
For Indiana (9-2), it was a milestone victory.
Ferrell became the 48th member of Indiana’s 1,000-point club, achieving the feat in the same building, Bankers Life Fieldhouse, where he won two state titles in high school. The Indianapolis native has 1,003 points.
Williams also had a career-high 11 rebounds and accounted for four points in a late flurry, the 10-0 spurt that extended Indiana’s 66-65 lead to 76-65 with 3:08 to go.
Coach Tom Crean picked up career win No. 300 in his latest round with Butler, and Indiana headed home with another win over a ranked foe. The Hoosiers lead the Big Ten with 17 wins over ranked teams since 2011-12.
”I’m not sure I can find a lot of weaknesses in their game and in their team,” Crean said. ”We knew we were going to have to plan an extraordinary game (to win).”
The Bulldogs (8-3) provided some help by not following the customary game plan. They shot 39.1 percent from the field, finished 3 of 16 from 3-point range, allowed an opponent to score 70 or more points for the first time this season and wound up with too many empty possessions late to make one last comeback attempt.
Kellen Dunham scored 18 of his 23 points in the first half. And although three other Butler players scored at least 10 — it wasn’t enough against Indiana’s determined duo.
”I thought we had some really effective stuff, we just need to be able to finish a game a little bit better,” Butler interim coach Chris Holtmann said.
The Hoosiers just wouldn’t let them
After Kameron Woods’ dunk gave Butler a 53-47 lead with 13:48 to go, Ferrell countered with 12 points in a 14-6 run that gave Indiana a 61-59 lead.
Williams started the next big run with four quick points. Ferrell closed out that flurry with a 3-pointer that gave Indiana an 11-point lead — its biggest of the game.
Butler answered with six straight points to get within five, but the Hoosiers’ defense clamped down and Ferrell finished it off at the free-throw line.
Indiana: James Blackmon Jr. came into Saturday as the nation’s top freshman scorer at 19.2 points per game. But his struggles were so bad that he started the second half on the bench. Blackmon finished 2 of 12 from the field and had only five points.
Butler: The Bulldogs came into Saturday as the only unbeaten team in the first three years of an event that pits Indiana’s four biggest basketball programs against one another. Butler went home 3-1 in the Classic and fell to 9-3 all-time at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Indiana hosts New Orleans on Monday.
Butler hosts Tennessee-Martin on Monday.
Butler wasn’t just off the mark when shots were contested, it also struggled from the free-throw line. It’s become a disconcerting trend. The Bulldogs went into the game shooting just 65.6 percent from the line this season. They finished 16 of 23 Saturday.
Are the Hoosiers erasing some of the doubts about its inside game? Perhaps. Indiana held up well inside against a team known for its rebounding prowess. On Saturday, the Hoosiers had a 45-35 rebounding advantage and finished with six blocks, four from Hanner Mosquera-Perea.