Saturday, February 25, 2017 9:35 pm
Anatomy of a winner: 'A perfect play'
Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette
BLOOMINGTON — James Blackmon Jr. heard a voice from Indiana's bench shouting for a timeout as the clock ticked closer and closer to another crushing defeat for a team that knows that feeling all too well.
"But I was already in my move," Blackmon said, "so I just went with it and tried to be confident."
Good thing he did, because the Hoosiers ultimately escaped Saturday night's game against Northwestern with a 63-62 victory, and it was all because of Blackmon's beautiful bounce pass to Thomas Bryant, who dunked to tie the game at 62 and eventually completed the three-point play with a game-winning free throw.
Typically, Indiana's leading scorer provides little in the way of passing, but Blackmon's only assist Saturday was one of his team's biggest individual plays all season.
"Blackmon gave a really nice pass," Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. "It's hard to give up a three-point play there. I don't want to blame (Scottie Lindsey, who fouled Bryant). It's nobody's fault. It's just a tough way to lose."
How did it happen? Let's take a look.
Blackmon grabbed a rebound on the other end and, instead of finding point guard Josh Newkirk, brought the ball up himself.
"Yeah, that was in my mind, just be aggressive and make a good play," Blackmon said.
Blackmon drove down the left side of the lane, Vic Law draped all over him. But Nathan Taphorn decided to help Law and approached from the baseline. Blackmon, seeing the floor well, made the right read.
"I was coming down, and they collapsed on me dribbling," Blackmon said. "I saw two or three guys coming at me, so I knew TB was going to be at the right spot, and that's what we work on. He wedged."
Bryant straddled the right side of the charge circle, ready to receive the dish with Scottie Lindsey, a wing defender, attempting to scramble into the scene late.
"I thought James was going to take the shot, so I was really getting ready for rebounding position," Bryant said. "I knew I could get on the backside. When James did a hesitation, came through, I was like, 'Oh, it's open right here, so I'm just going to keep wedging him out and just be on that backside, which he dumped it off to me, and it was a good pass."
Bryant went up with two hands but appeared to finish his jam with the right as Taphorn made a flailing challenge. Lindsey slapped Bryant on the right arm for the and-1 call with 2.6 seconds remaining.
"It was just a great play," Hoosiers coach Tom Crean said. "It was just a great play. They (Blackmon and Bryant) did a great job."
Blackmon went a step further.
"It was," he said, "a perfect play."