LOUISVILLE — Kentucky wasn't even supposed to be in the same gym with Indiana on Friday.
Before the game started, even Kentucky Coach Jason Booher had his doubts.
"They're unbelievable," Booher said earlier this week. "They're one of the best Indiana teams I've ever seen."
The Hoosiers, who had two McDonald's All-Americans and seven players ranked among Rivals' top 130 in the nation, were supposed to dominate an undermanned and short-handed Kentucky crew.
Someone forgot to inform Kentucky's All-Stars, who erased a 14-point deficit, grabbed a lead late in the game before the Hoosiers managed to pull it out 90-85 on Friday night at Freedom Hall.
Indiana signee Yogi Ferrell, the runner-up for Mr. Basketball, made the decisive play with 2:10 to go with his steal on an inbounds play, then layup and free throw to give the Hoosiers a tiny bit of breathing room at 86-81.
"That play definitely helped us a lot; it helped us win the game," said Ferrell, who had 10 points, five rebounds and six assists.
Kentucky made another small run and cut it to one point with 34 seconds to play before another Ferrell steal turned into a Glenn Robinson dunk with 10.5 seconds to play.
Bopper Stenzel had a chance to tie it in the final seconds, but his three-pointer fell short.
McDonald's All-American and Indiana Mr. Basketball Gary Harris led the Hoosiers with 20 points and five rebounds.
"We're not going to give up until the clock hits zero, and that's what we did: we kept fighting and got the win," Harris said. "Obviously, we didn't want it to be this close. We felt like we could've played much better, but we came away with the win and that's all that matters."
The Hoosiers had a fairly comfortable 12-point advantage in the second half and looked primed to blow out Kentucky.
Then Kentucky came storming back.
Charles Foster's layup gave the Bluegrass boys their first lead, 74-73, since early in the first half.
Trinity's Nathan Dieudonne led all scorers with 24 points and he grabbed six rebounds for Kentucky.
Scott County's Tamron Manning had 23 points.
"They did everything we asked them to do, but then a play here and a play there and we came up short," Booher said. "But I'm so very proud of their effort."
■ Pleasure Ridge Park's Jeril Taylor injured his left knee during Kentucky's big run in the second half. Teammates carried him off the floor. Taylor is "50-50 to play" when the series heads north on Saturday to Indianapolis. Booher said it was a strained MCL in the player's left knee.
Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader.