INDIANAPOLIS — When the basketball gods smile on you, don’t ask questions. You never know when they’ll be back around.

For Indiana, they have smiled infrequently, if at all, since Christian Watford sank a 3-pointer to beat No. 1 Kentucky in 2011. The fact a non-conference regular-season win still resonates so deeply for IU fans is reflective of the desert that most of the ensuing decade became.

But there’s no question something is happening for these Hoosiers. Something unusual. Something special.

For the second straight afternoon, Indiana faced a team junior star Trayce Jackson-Davis has never beaten in his 3-year career. And for the second straight day, the Hoosiers survived in part because that opponent threw a pass out of bounds with a chance to take the lead in the final 11 seconds.

Thanks in part to these unusual, unforced turnovers, Indiana is playing in the Big Ten Tournament semifinals for the first time since 2003.

“I think that’s big for us because it’s always been one stop, one key stop, one key rebound, that it’s been the last 7 or 8 games where we haven’t gotten those,” said Indiana center Trayce Jackson-Davis. “So finally getting some of those breaks I think has been good for us.”

That’s putting it mildly.

A team that came to Indianapolis on the wrong side of the NCAA Tournament bubble now seems safely inside the field. And Indiana isn’t done just yet.

“I take responsibility for a lot of the games that we’ve lost,” said Indiana coach Mike Woodson. “I mean, I just couldn’t get them over the hump. And now they’re really starting to believe. You know what I mean?

“You lose enough of them, hell, you start to get breaks your way.”

There’s no disputing the Hoosiers received a pair of unexpected lucky breaks when Michigan’s Moussa Diabate and Illinois’ Trent Frazier passed to teammates who weren’t there on consecutive days. But this isn’t all luck.

It’s a product of intelligent design, if you will.

Knight school in session

When Indiana athletic director Scott Dolson hired Mike Woodson last offseason, there was certainly a public-relations element involved. There’s been a fracture that never left the IU fan base since Bob Knight was fired in 2000, and hiring one of his former players served to heal that.

But PR was the smallest part of the equation. It was primarily about Woodson’s basketball knowledge. Knowledge, of course, that was largely picked up from Knight.

And that’s what we’re seeing take hold near the end of Woodson’s first season back in Bloomington.

“I played for a great coach in Bob Knight,” Woodson said. “And the one thing he taught me was defense wins games.

“The offense is not going to be there every night. But if you can put a good defensive system in place, you put yourself in a great position to win every game. You’re going to be in every ballgame.”

So many times this year, the offense hasn’t been there for the Hoosiers. Indiana is 151st nationally in 3-point shooting and 247th in free-throw shooting, both indictments on predecessor Archie Miller’s eye for finding shooters with an eye.

But Woodson has gotten this group to buy into the idea that if you’re stubborn enough on defense, the offense is going to follow.

Nothing has been more stubborn than Indiana’s defense thus far in the Big Ten Tournament.

In the first round, Michigan had a stretch of 13 consecutive missed field goals. In the quarterfinals, Illinois missed 11 straight field goals in the first half. To top it, the Hoosiers held the Fighting Illini without a field goal over the final 5:03 of the game.

Illinois ended up shooting 35.6% from the field, which is the second-worst performance the Illini have had all season.

Neither of those offenses are chopped liver. The Wolverines are 18th nationally in offensive efficiency, and the Fighting Illini 22nd.

Woodson alluded to his time as an assistant coach for the 2004 Detroit Pistons, who were among the more unlikely NBA champions of the 21st century.

“That team was as good a defensive team [as there is],” Woodson said. “That’s basically how we want it. So I know defense will win games if guys are committed to defending, rebounding the ball. And that’s what we’ve been doing here as of late.”

The ultimate test awaits Saturday against Iowa’s soaring offense.

Iowa is averaging 98 points per game in the Big Ten Tournament. But if there’s any defense capable of stopping the Hawkeyes right now, the Hoosiers have it.