Indiana’s game winning three pointer against Kentucky
Down by 1 with Kentucky on the line for a second free throw, Tom Crean took a timeout to set up the play for his team after the second free throw. This allowed Indiana to play against a defense that was not completely set, even though Doron Lamb made the second free throw. This led to a discombobulated defense, which Indiana took advantage of to hit a buzzer beating three point shot.
The first key to the play is the screen set by Cody Zeller on Marquis Teague. This allows Verdell Jones to freely bring the ball up the court as quickly as he can. By not having a defender in front of him, Jones has time to take the ball under the three point line, instead of wasting precious time trying to get past a defender.
Look at where the Kentucky defenders are in the below frame. With Teague out of the picture because of the initial screen, all four remaining defenders are at or below the foul line. With Crean taking the timeout before the second foul shot, the defense is still scrambling a bit after the made free throw and the young Kentucky team has some trouble as Indiana brings the ball up the court.
Zeller set the screen in the backcourt and is no longer a factor in the play. Christian Watford inbounded the ball and with Kentucky’s defender immediately dropping back behind the half court line, there are no Kentucky defenders to pick up Watford as he comes across half court. This leaves him unguarded as Jones penetrates the lane and he has time to hit the winning shot.
With Jones taking the ball below the three point line, he draws the attention of several defenders, as Kentucky does not want him to get to the rim for an easy layup. This, combined with the fact that nobody picked up Watford as he came across halfcourt, gives Indiana an open three point shot to win the game. Kentucky’s defense cannot close out in time and Watford wins the game for the Hoosiers.
The key to this play was the trust Crean had in his team by calling the timeout between free throws. This did allow Kentucky to set their defense and they lost Watford in the shuffle as he came down the court after inbounding the ball to Jones. ESPN does not give us the best camera angle but it looks like all 4 Kentucky players (save the shooter, Lamb) are behind halfcourt as the second free throw is taken. They don’t match up well off the free throw and Watford is left unguarded.
Don’t underestimate the importance of the screen by Zeller. By taking Teague out of the play, Jones can now sprint undeterred up the court, saving valuable seconds. This gave him the time to take the ball several steps below the three point, drawing the defense and preventing a strong close out. This gave Watford the space needed to take the game winning shot.