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Indiana holds off VCU

By Pete DiPrimio, The News-Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Ind.) –

PORTLAND, Ore. — In the end, Indiana handled the VCU heat.

The Hoosiers (27-8) survived 21 turnovers and the Rams’ fierce defensive pressure to win, 63-61, on Saturday night to advance to next week’s Sweet Sixteen in Atlanta.

VCU finished 29-7.

Christian Watford led Indiana with 16 points. Cody Zeller had 14 points and 12 rebounds.

Will Sheehey hit the winning jumper with 12 seconds left.

Indiana’s attack-the-press approach helped it hit 6 of its first 7 shots and burst to a 13-8 lead. VCU countered with a 10-0 behind Burgess’ three-point sharpshooting. He had 12 points in less than nine minutes to boost the Rams to a six-point lead.

Zeller exposed VCU’s interior defense with 4-for-4 shooting and 10 points as the Hoosiers rallied for a two-point lead.

Sheehey was called for a flagrant foul for throwing an elbow. That helped spur the Rams on an 11-0 run to take a 42-33 lead. But Watford scored eight straight points in the final 80 seconds to make it a one-point halftime deficit.

Watford was 3-for-3 from three-point range for 11 points. Zeller had 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting.

VCU ramped up the defensive pressure and nailed three three-pointers to surge to an eight-point lead. IU picked up its own defense (holding the Rams scoreless for six straight minutes), got within four, at 57-53, then wasted crucial possessions against VCU’s pressure.

The Hoosiers trailed 61-56 with 91 seconds left when Zeller hit a pair of free throws. Victor Oladipo completed a three-point play. Sheehey hit a jumper to give IU the lead with 12 seconds left.

It was just enough.

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