Skip to content

Christian Watford a key figure for No. 3 Indiana this month

Mar 15, 2013, 2:30 PM EDT

Christian Watford, Joseph Bertrand AP

The Indiana Hoosiers have depth and they do have two of the nation’s best players in junior wing Victor Oladipo and sophomore center Cody Zeller. Zeller scored 24 points (9-of-11 FG) and grabbed nine rebounds to lead the Hoosiers past Illinois on Friday afternoon by the final score of 80-64, and Oladipo added 12 points and 11 rebounds.

But for as good as those two have been all year for Tom Crean’s team, whether or not the Hoosiers (27-5) can win a national title will also depend on what they get from senior forward Christian Watford.

Watford scored 15 points and grabbed six rebounds against the Fighting Illini, a step in the right direction after struggling down the stretch.

In three of Indiana’s final four regular season games Watford failed to reach double figures, averaging 7.0 points per game and shooting 26.7% from the field in those four games. Entering Friday Watford was averaging 12.4 points per contest and shooting 43.2% from the field (48.6% 3PT), and he shot 50% from the field (3-of-6) while also getting to the foul line (7-of-8) against Illinois.

As a team the Hoosiers shot 54% from the field on Friday and outscored the Illini 40-24 in the paint. With the number of options at Crean’s disposal the Hoosiers are going to be tough for any team to slow down, but that doesn’t mean their road to Atlanta will be an easy one to navigate.

There will be a game during the NCAA tournament in which either Oladipo or Zeller struggle offensively, and that’s where a player like Watford, Jordan Hulls (seven assists) or Will Sheehey (11 points off the bench) comes into play.

“It takes our whole team to win,” said Oladipo following the win. “When guys off the bench step up and when Christian and Jordan step up, it’s huge for us. They’re very capable of that. Without them, we can’t win.”

Watford’s been consistent for much of the season, but in the aftermath of that rough stretch to end the regular season he needed a game like this one to get back on the right track.

And if Watford’s playing well, a Hoosier squad that’s one of the pre-tournament favorites to win it all becomes even tougher to beat.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Cheick Diallo leads East to McDonald’s All-American Game victory

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT

    Kelly Kline/Getty Images Getty Images

    Diallo, who’s still considering five schools, led the way with 18 points and ten rebounds.

  2. Gregg Marshall to remain at Wichita State, won’t visit Alabama

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:57 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Reports surfaced earlier Wednesday that Marshall would visit Alabama on Friday.

  3. 6-foot-4 shooting guard becomes South Carolina’s fourth 2015 commitment

    Apr 1, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    With Ty Johnson being the lone player out of eligibility, South Carolina may have some other moves in minds when it comes to getting down to the 13 scholarship limit.

  4. Arizona sophomore forward denies reports that he’s turning pro

    Apr 1, 2015, 7:31 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Rondae Hollis-Jefferson is projected to be a first round pick, but he stated that he still needs to talk with his mother and Arizona head coach Sean Miller before making a decision.

  5. Oklahoma sophomore guard Frank Booker to transfer

    Apr 1, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Booker played just 14.3 minutes per game this season, with the Sooners relying on the triumvirate of Buddy Hield, Isaiah Cousins and Jordan Woodard on the perimeter.

  6. Rhode Island, head coach Dan Hurley agree to contract restructuring, extension

    Apr 1, 2015, 5:15 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Hurley led the Rams to a 23-10 record this season, and with the amount of talent they’ll return Rhody should be an NCAA tournament team and a contender in the A-10.

  7. Eastern Washington guard Tyler Harvey announces intentions to turn pro

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:45 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Harvey averaged 23.1 points, 3.6 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game for the Big Sky champion Eagles.

  8. Eight uncommitted McDonald’s All-Americans give a recruiting update

    Apr 1, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram remain two of eight uncommitted All-Americans (adidas) Jaylen Brown and Brandon Ingram remain two of eight uncommitted All-Americans (adidas)

    With eight uncommitted McDonald’s All-Americans playing in Wednesday night’s game, there are still plenty of decisions to be made going forward.

  9. Maryland point guard Melo Trimble to return for sophomore season

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:55 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP

    Trimble’s decision to return is a big boost, and it ensures that Maryland will be a Big Ten contender next season.

  10. Liberty re-hires former head coach Ritchie McKay

    Apr 1, 2015, 3:15 PM EDT

    ACC Men's Basketball Tournament Semifinal Round Game Virginia Cavaliers vs Pittsburgh Panthers Getty Images

    Liberty re-hired former head coach Ritchie McKay after McKay spent a stint at Virginia as associate head coach.

  11. How Duke fixed its defense in the NCAA tournament

    Apr 1, 2015, 2:15 PM EDT

    (AP) AP

    What kinds of changes has Duke made to improve defensively during a strong NCAA tournament run?

  12. Kansas loses freshman Kelly Oubre Jr. to 2015 NBA Draft

    Apr 1, 2015, 1:00 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Kelly Oubre Jr. will leave Kansas for the NBA Draft.

  13. Nebraska guard Tarin Smith to transfer

    Apr 1, 2015, 12:15 PM EDT

    (Getty Images) Getty Images

    Nebraska is losing another player from the roster.

  14. Ohio State lands a top 50 Class of 2016 commitment

    Apr 1, 2015, 11:10 AM EDT

    Harrison Heath, Derek Funderburk AP

    Ohio State landed an impact forward in the 2016 class on Wednesday.

  15. Wisconsin stops selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirt in campus bookstore over potential NCAA violation

    Apr 1, 2015, 10:10 AM EDT

    AP AP

    Wisconsin stopped selling Nigel Hayes-inspired shirts at a campus bookstore.

  16. Kevin Ollie, UConn coaching staff won’t attend Final Four in Indianapolis over state travel ban

    Apr 1, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    (AP) AP

    Kevin Ollie and UConn will stay away from the Final Four in Indianapolis as the state of Connecticut has banned state-funded travel to the state.

  17. San Diego hires New Mexico assistant Lamont Smith as new head coach

    Mar 31, 2015, 11:00 PM EDT

    Lamont Smith, right, is San Diego's new head coach (Getty Images) Getty Images

    San Diego turned to a former player to lead the basketball program.