Ferrell leads Hoosiers past Chattanooga, 99-74

DES MOINES, Iowa — Yogi Ferrell had 20 points and a season-high 10 assists, O.G. Anunoby pitched in 14 points and No. 5 seed Indiana took charge of its NCAA Tournament opener against Chattanooga on the way to a 99-74 victory on Thursday in the East Region.

Thomas Bryant scored 13 points and Troy Williams added 12 points and eight rebounds for the Hoosiers, who had their high-powered offense in prime form. They shot 37 for 57 from the floor for 64.9 percent. Anunoby, the long-armed freshman forward, was 6 for 7 with a highlight-reel array of 3-pointers and dunks.

Duke Ethridge had 14 points and Justin Tuoyo scored 12 for the No. 12 seed Mocs (29-6), whose stellar first season under young coach Matt McCall came to a screeching end.

The Hoosiers (26-7) dodged the 5-12 danger that eliminated Baylor and Big Ten rival Purdue earlier in the day and did their part to set up a possible second-round matchup of storied programs. Indiana will play the Stony Brook-Kentucky winner on Saturday.

Ferrell, the fiery point guard who is generously listed at 6-foot but has long played well above his height, became the first Indiana player in more than 20 years to win more than one Big Ten regular-season title. But he has never advanced past the round of 16 in the NCAA Tournament and is aiming to extend an impeccable college career by another week or two.

Nicknamed Yogi because he liked to eat like the picnic-basket-loving cartoon bear, transcending his given name Kevin, Ferrell played just like a senior should on this stage by directing the diverse Hoosiers offense with a deft vision and a quick step.

He kept the floor well-spaced, driving hard to disrupt Chattanooga’s defense and find the open teammate either in the lane off the backdoor cut for an easy dunk or on the wing for a wide-open 3-pointer. The Hoosiers entered the tournament as the third-best shooting team in the nation and would have had a larger halftime lead than 46-37 had it not been for some sloppy turnovers.

The sure sign this was Indiana’s night was midway through the second half, when Anunoby’s 3-pointer bounced high off the back of the rim and straight down through the net for a 63-45 lead. He scored on the next possession for the Hoosiers, too, with a 360-degree finger roll off a fast break.

Stung by a last-second loss to Michigan in their conference tournament opener and bothered by the unusually low seed for a team that finished 15-3 in Big Ten play, the Hoosiers shot so well it was nearly impossible for the Mocs to set up their full-court press.

Only No. 1 overall seed Kansas brought more wins into this NCAA Tournament than Chattanooga, and the future appears bright under McCall, the former assistant at Florida. But the Mocs must wait at least another year to try for their first NCAA Tournament win since 1997.

TITLE TILT

This was the only first-round game of the NCAA Tournament this year to feature two teams that won their regular-season conference title outright.

TIP-INS

Chattanooga: The Mocs should have senior Casey Jones back in 2016-17. The Southern Conference Preseason Player of the Year hurt his ankle in December and was done after eight games. He applied for a medical redshirt.

Indiana: Ferrell tied former teammate Jordan Hulls for the most games played in Hoosiers history with 135. … Guard Robert Johnson returned from a four-game absence due to a sprained left ankle and had seven points and six assists.

UP NEXT

Chattanooga’s season is over.

Indiana plays the Stony Brook-Kentucky winner in the second round on Saturday.

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