HONOLULU, Hawaii — Indiana State’s men’s basketball team never put its hammer away against Miami in the Hawaiian Airlines Diamond Head Classic on Tuesday.
The Sycamores kept pounding at the rock. Figuratively, yes. But literally too as ISU’s faced an imposing Hurricanes’ front line.
The rock cracked in the last minute. And it broke in overtime.
Jake Odum converted a leaner in the lane with 0.8 left as ISU defeated Miami 57-55 in overtime to take third place in the Diamond Head Classic.
"Twenty-seven percent shooting? Justin [Gant] going out? Going down 47-40? It's just an unbelievable, gutsy effort by the guys," ISU coach Greg Lansing said. "You can't let poor shooting and bad offense affect your defense. And we didn't. They fought like crazy for every rebound and every loose ball. It was a tremendous effort."
The bounty of ISU's two wins in Hawaii over BCS conference teams is considerable. ISU's RPI vaulted to 50th with victories over Miami (ACC) and Mississippi (SEC). It had been in the 100s prior to the Hawaiian trip.
It was ISU's first win over a current Atlantic Coast Conference team since it beat Virginia Tech in the 1979 NCAA Tournament.
"It's something to feel good about and grow on. It's something to get us ready for conference season because it's going to be tough," Mahurin said.
Manny Arop and R.J. Mahurin led ISU (7-4) with 13 apiece, but Odum’s lean-in shot — converted so many times in clutch situations before by the Terre Haute native — stuck again.
After Miami missed with 30 seconds left, ISU held for the last shot. Odum dribbled at the timeline and waited to make his move on Trey McKinney Jones at the five-second mark.
Odum fooled McKinney Jones with an up-and-under move and leaned in for the dagger shot that banked off the glass and went in.
Not only has Odum made the game-winning shot before, but the call made for him was the same one made in ISU's overtime victory over Evansville in the 2011 Missouri Valley Conference Tournament. That win propelled the Sycamores into the NCAA Tournament.
"We had a slip ball-screen with R.J. with R.J. hedging hard on the ball screen. It gave me a driving lane. Coach Lansing gives me confidence when he tells me to go make a play. It's great to get the win," Odum said.
Kadji, 6-foot-11, and Gamble, 6-foot-10, lorded over the paint … and the Sycamores. Miami scored 38 of its 55 points in the paint. McKinney Jones also had 11 rebounds.
ISU shot 27 percent from the field, the lowest shooting percentage for any Division I winning team this season, but stayed in the game.
A big part of it was its ability to keep Miami from scoring outside. The Hurricanes were 0 of 15 from 3-point range. Miami shot 33.8 percent from the field overall.
"All three games we played [in Hawaii], we played good defense. It's what's going to carry us in the conference. It gives us extra possessions," said ISU guard Devonte Brown, who had nine points, five rebounds and who helped guard Miami's Shane Larkin, who was held to four points.
Miami was also 11 of 21 at the line. Conversely, ISU was 17 of 18 on its free throws.
ISU went down eight to start the second half, but as it did in the first half, it clawed back with bloody fingernails. Free throws by Odum and a 3-pointer by Arop closed ISU’s gap to 31-28 in a very physical battle.
ISU then fell into a frustrating pattern in which it could get makes and stops to stay close to Miami, but couldn’t muster the buckets to get over the top.
Miami eventually mustered a 6-0 run to take a 39-30 lead.
The uphill climb became even tougher with 8:15 left. Justin Gant was elbowed in the mouth by Kadji in a loose ball scrum and his front tooth was broken in half. He did not return, though Lansing indicated that Gant said he would have if needed.
Despite its shooting woes — ISU shot 22.2 percent in the second half — the gap was closed to 40-35 with 6:37 left.
It seemed that would be as close as ISU would get until Devonte Brown gave the Sycamores a boost off the bench. Brown was fouled on a drive at 5:08 and converted a pair of free throws. He then cashed in a traditional three-point play in transition — and fouled out Gamble in the process — to give ISU yet another chance at 43-40 with 4:27 left.
It wasn't just Brown's offensive contribution that helped the Sycamores.
"Devonte was really our MVP of the game today. He kind of cut the head off the snake with Larkin. Without him, we wouldn't have been there. He stepped it up for us," Odum said.
Miami pushed its lead back to 47-40 before ISU finally got over the hump. After Mahurin hit a pair of free throws with 2:25 left, Lucas Eitel drained a 3-pointer at 1:53 to make it 47-45.
The teams traded points and ISU caught a break when Rion Brown missed two free throws with 32.5 left to give ISU a chance down two. Arop missed a three, but Mahurin got the offensive rebound and was fouled on a putback with 16.9 left. He made both free throws to tie the game.
"I was crashing, but I saw Khristian [Smith], I saw his eyes and he kind of tipped it to me. I caught it and stepped up and made some big free throws," Mahurin said.
Larkin missed a runner with 0.8 seconds left and the game went to overtime tied at 49.
Khristian Smith gave ISU its first lead since it led 2-0 when he scored the first bucket of overtime. The teams traded points and Miami took a 55-53 lead on a Rion Brown alley-oop dunk at 1:55.
Arop tied it with 1:03 left with a pair of free throws and ISU got a stop when Smith and Eitel made a stop on a Kadji attempt with 30 seconds left. ISU would hold the ball for Odum's game-winner on the next possession.
"I tried to push him as far away from the post as possible. I knew he'd try to back me down and go for a jump-hook. Luckily, he got himself behind the rim and I got a piece of the ball," Smith said.
From the star, Gamble and Kadji towered over the Sycamores. Six of Miami’s first eight points were second-chance points. Others came on missed defensive assignments in the paint by ISU. Miami led 9-2 just barely five minutes into the contest.
Miami’s size gave ISU equal fits on the Sycamores’ offensive end — ISU shot 25 percent in the first half and was under 20 percent for most of the first 10 minutes — but ISU began to get stops on the defensive end and it helped the Sycamores grind their way back into the contest.
Scoring was a a premium, but when Odum hit a 3-pointer with 4:24 left, ISU had cut its deficit to 17-15.
Kadji and Gamble took turns in the paint doing their best Moses Malone impressions — the Hurricanes scored 20 of their 23 first-half points in the paint. ISU, however, was able to answer each Miami bucket with one of its own and the Sycamores trailed by just two at the half.
"Early on, they killed us on the boards. They had a bunch of offensive rebounds. Later on, we limited their offensive rebounds and they didn't get extra shots," Mahurin said.
ISU begins Missouri Valley Conference play on Sunday as it hosts Illinois State.
INDIANA STATE (57) – Arop 4-16 3-3 13, Gant 1-6 0-0 2, Cummings 1-5 0-0 3, Odum 2-7 4-4 9, Mahurin 3-7 6-6 13, Kitchell 1-2 0-0 2, Eitel 1-5 1-2 4, D. Brown 3-6 3-3 9, K. Smith 1-9 0-0 2. 17-63 FG, 17-18 FT, 57 TP.
MIAMI (55) – Larkin 2-13 0-0 4, Scott 4-13 4-5 12, Jones 2-6 2-2 6, Kadji 5-16 3-6 13, Gamble 5-9 1-5 11, Akpejiori 1-2 0-0 2, R. Brown 3-6 1-3 7, Jekiri 0-0 0-0 0. 22-65 FG, 11-21 FT, 55 TP.
Halftime score – UM 23-21. End of regulation – 49-49. 3-point goals – ISU 6-25 (Arop 2-7, Eitel 1-5, Mahurin 1-4, Cummings 1-4, Odum 1-1, K. Smith 0-2, Gant 0-1, D. Brown 0-1), UM 0-15 (Larkin 0-5, Scott 0-3, Jones 0-3, R. Brown 0-3, Kadji 0-1). Rebounds – ISU 46 (K. Smith 11, Team 7, Odum 6, Mahurin 5, Kitchell 5, D. Brown 5, Gant 3, Arop 2, Cummings, Eitel), UM 47 (Jones 11, Gamble 9, Kadji 7, Scott 6, Team 5, Larkin 4, Akpejiori 3, R. Brown 2), Assists – ISU 8 (Odum 6, Arop, Eitel), UM 7 (Larkin 4, Jones 2, Scott), Steals – ISU 4 (Arop, Odum, Eitel, K. Smith), UM 4 (Scott 2, Larkin, Jones), Blocks – ISU 3 (Odum 2, Kitchell), UM 4 (Scott 2, Larkin, Jones), Turnovers – ISU 10 (Odum 5, Arop, Eitel, D. Brown, K. Smith), UM 8 (Jones 4, Larkin, Kadji, Akpejiori, R. Brown), Total fouls – ISU 15, UM 16. Fouled out – Gamble. A – n/a.
Next – ISU (7-4) plays host to Illinois State on Sunday. Miami (8-3) plays host to LaSalle on Jan. 2.
VIDEO: Greg Lansing on ISU's win ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VB-kN6QnN2s
VIDEO: Jake Odum on ISU's win ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y9aZBlZRvF8