OMAHA, Neb. | Indiana certainly would have liked to have gone farther in the NCAA tournament. But coach Tom Crean acknowledged that his Hoosiers probably exceeded many people's expectations after being picked 11th in the Big Ten and ending up with a No. 10 seed.
Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell scored 24 points to lead four Indiana players in double figures, but Wichita State overtook the Hoosiers in the middle of the second half and dealt them an 81-76 loss Friday.
"We're not happy with the outcome today," Crean said. "Certainly we could have played better, but I have zero disappointment in the way these guys battled, competed, got better and persevered throughout the season."
The Hoosiers (20-14) overcame off-the-court issues early in the season and a late-season slump to finish seventh in the Big Ten, and they received what to some was a higher-than-expected seed for the tournament.
"I like where we're headed," Crean said. "There's no question we have got to improve in not only basketball areas but also the strength areas. The biggest thing is to put together more multiple stops. When we did that, we were a pretty good team. When we didn't, it got a little harder for us."
The Hoosiers led Wichita State by eight points in the first half, but Fred VanVleet began asserting himself and finished with 27 points. No. 7 seed Wichita State (29-4) won its tournament opener for the third straight year in its typical bruising style and will play second-seeded Kansas in a much-anticipated Sunflower State showdown in the round of 32 Sunday.
"It's a big thing for the state of Kansas," said Ron Baker, who hails from Scott City and made 7 of 8 free throws in the final 2 minutes. "A lot of houses are going to be divided. Being a player from Kansas, I'm really fortunate to be in this game. These types of games don't happen a whole lot."
James Blackmon Jr. added 14 points for Indiana, and Troy Williams and Collin Hartman had 11 apiece.
Wichita State used a 15-3 run in the middle of the second half to take an eight-point lead. Wichita State freshman Zach Brown, who had a career-high 11 points, did much of the work, scoring off an inbounds play, dunking and putting back Tekele Cotton's miss to make it 65-57.
The Shockers answered each time Indiana looked ready to come back. After Williams made a smooth move through the lane to cut it to 76-74, Darius Carter laced a pass through the lane to Cotton, who went up and under to restore the four-point lead.
Ferrell made a couple free throws to get Indiana within two, but Baker hit two on the other end with 19 seconds left.
Bodies were on the court often, and the fouls were hard. Just ask Ferrell, who landed on his backside after getting rocked by Cotton and got up with a grimace. And Carter had his front tooth loosened when he took an elbow.
"We pride ourselves on toughness, the whole 'play angry' thing," Carter said. "We all have a will to win."
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