If any shred of doubt remained whether Indiana is headed in the right direction under Tom Crean, the Hoosiers put it to rest in two ways on Saturday.
First they toppled an elite opponent for the second time this season by upsetting second-ranked Ohio State 74-70. Then their crowd acted the way a storied program should and didn't storm the court in jubilation over a home win against a conference rival.
Yes, folks, Indiana is back ... or at least closer to being back among the nation's elite teams than almost anyone would have expected two months ago. The Hoosiers have earned a top 15 ranking and appear to belong in the conversation with Michigan State and Wisconsin as teams who can challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten championship.
Indiana will have to beat some better teams away from Bloomington than Evansville or NC State to fully validate its gaudy 13-1 record, but to downplay the Hoosiers' success because of their lack of road wins to this point is foolish. The list of teams capable of defeating both Ohio State and Kentucky this season is a short one regardless of the venue.
"Give credit when credit is due," Ohio State star Jared Sullinger tweeted Saturday. "IU basketball is back everybody.... Tough basketball team."
What was most impressive about Indiana's win against the Buckeyes was that it happened with sixth man Will Sheehey out with a left foot injury and with elite freshman Cody Zeller sidelined with a fifth foul down the stretch. The Hoosiers took a 71-70 lead on a Victor Oladipo layup and then protected it with a series of defensive stops in the final minute.
There would have been some who would have argued the Kentucky win was somewhat of a fluke had Indiana followed it up by starting 0-2 in Big Ten play. Instead the Hoosiers responded to a tough loss at Michigan State earlier in the week with another landmark resume-boosting victory that suggests they'll be a factor in the Big Ten all season long.
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