Indiana 74, Pittsburgh 64
Tom Crean joined the long list of Division I coaches with 200 career victories. The latest win was special for a host of reasons, most of all because his Indiana team needed it so badly.
``Our players, the way they work, the way they compete, they needed something to go right for them. They needed a signature win for themselves,'' Crean said after the Hoosiers beat Pittsburgh 74-64 on Tuesday night in the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden.
Verdell Jones III scored 22 points and Christian Watford had 16 for the Hoosiers (4-4), who had lost four of their last five.
Crean, who is in his second season at Indiana, won 190 games in nine seasons at Marquette.
``When I left Marquette we had a lot of wins,'' said Crean, who was 6-25 last season, his first at Indiana. ``Last year, I wasn't sure 200 was ever going to come. It's a great feeling but I'll reflect on it at some other point. I've had a chance to be involved with so many good people, coaches and players. This group I have now is second to none.''
Indiana broke open a close game with two 7-0 runs in the second half. The first was capped by the Hoosiers' only 3-point field goal in seven attempts when Devan Dumes' long jumper made it 48-37 with 11:04 to play.
Watford had a three-point play in the middle of the second run that gave Indiana a 59-42 lead with 7:56 left.
``Our hard work is finally starting to pay off,'' Jones said. ``A win against a good team like this will keep motivating us. It was so good to finally get that kind of win. It means a lot.''
Crean had an explanation for why the Hoosiers came out the way they did for the second half. He had his brother-in-law, Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh, address the team at halftime.
``I can tell you they never heard a halftime speech like that,'' Crean said. ``They were charging out of that locker room.''
Ashton Gibbs had a career-high 25 points and Brad Wannaker added 18 for the Panthers (7-2), who had won three straight after losing to No. 2 Texas.
``We got what we deserved. We didn't play well and Indiana did,'' Panthers coach Jamie Dixon said. ``Besides rebounding we didn't do too many other things well. We have a lot of work to do and our players know that.''
The Jimmy V Classic is held annually to raise money for the V Foundation, the cancer research organization founded in the name of the late Jim Valvano. ESPN has a huge presence at this event every year since Valvano worked for the network as an analyst.
One of the ESPN employees in attendance was Bob Knight, who led Indiana to three national championships and 618 wins in 29 years there before he was fired for violating a zero-tolerance policy. It was the first time he was in attendance at an Indiana game since he was let go in 2000.
``It's always good to have basketball royalty in the building,'' Crean said.