By JOHN BAUERNFEIND | IDS
In a game that saw the IU men’s basketball team shoot below 70 percent from the free throw line and miss the front end of three one-and-ones, it was sophomore guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell who iced Indiana’s 56-46 win against Illinois.
Ferrell went a perfect 6-for-6 from the charity stripe in the game’s final one minute and six seconds.
For the game, Ferrell went 8-for-8 from the free throw line, while the rest of the team shot a porous 5-for-11.
Ferrell’s perfection from the free throw line was the most attempts without a miss by an IU player this season.
Ferrell, who scored a career-high 30 points at Illinois on Dec. 31, totaled a team-high 17 points Sunday, 15 of which came in the second half. After the game, Ferrell said he had to find better opportunities for himself in the second half.
“(I’m) picking my spots a little better,” he said. “I know I had a bunch of turnovers to begin the game. They kind of boxed me in a little bit. They played great help side defense so I would just drive and pretty much kick.”
Ferrell’s 17 points came off an efficient 4-for-7 shooting from the field. After IU struggled to find a scoring groove in the first half,
Ferrell played a massive role in a 12-0 run early in the second.
After Illinois Jon Ekey connected on a 3-pointer with 17:37 remaining in the second half, Ferrell scored six straight points to start the scoring run.
With Indiana up 34-39, Ferrell found senior wing Will Sheehey for a 3-pointer.
To cap off the run, Sheehey returned the favor by assisting on a 3-pointer made by Ferrell on the next Indiana possession.
After the game, IU Coach Tom Crean said Ferrell’s play opened up the game for Indiana’s other players, specifically freshman forward Noah Vonleh.
“The fact that Yogi just continued to play like an outstanding point guard throughout the game freed it up for him,” Crean said.
“Yogi in the first half managed the game at a high level and in the second half was able to take it over at certain points.”
Crean said that’s what he wants to see in players.
“You want somebody that’s always looking for ‘what is the game giving you,’ not ‘what do I want to bring to the game,’” he said. “And I thought Noah and Yogi did a tremendous job of that and the rest of the guys played off of that.”
Despite three turnovers, Ferrell, who played in the game’s final nine minutes and 52 seconds, guided the Hoosiers to zero turnovers committed in the last four minutes and 25 seconds.
He also had five assists to go along with four rebounds and a steal.
This was the 13th time this season Ferrell scored more than 15 points in a game. Ferrell said afterward that IU needs to improve upon its turnovers and defensive mindset to make it to the NCAA Tournament.
“You know, probably the main thing is cutting down on turnovers,” Ferrell said. “We want to get 10 or less a game. I felt like that will come with playing a lot of games really. Us being young isn’t a factor at all. It just comes down to us being patient, really.
“We’ve got to have more of a defensive mindset. We can’t have miscommunications on defense like we did a few times in this game.
“I think we get those two things down, we’ll be okay.”
Follow reporter John Bauernfeind on Twitter @JohnBauernfeind.