Indiana Congressman Jabs Cruz for Basketball Flub

Rep. Luke Messer said he winced when Cruz called a hoop a "basketball ring."

— -- Basketball-crazy Indiana Republicans have a message for Ted Cruz: It's a basketball hoop, not a "ring."

At a Tuesday rally in the high school gym where the basketball movie "Hoosiers" was filmed, the Texas senator jumbled his basketball terminology, referring to a hoop as "basketball ring."

"You can't help but wince," Rep. Luke Messer, R-Ind., said of Cruz's gaffe in an interview with ABC News’ Rick Klein. "In Indiana, it's a basketball hoop, or basketball goal.

"It's hard when you're a candidate running for office," he added, defending Cruz's remarks. "Sometimes you misspeak."

Looking ahead to his home state's GOP primary next week, Messer, a two-term congressman and member of House GOP leadership, has not made a new endorsement. His initial pick, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, bowed out of the race in February.

Messer said he still isn't sure whom he'll vote for of the remaining presidential candidates and not sure he will endorse before Tuesday.

"I'm like most Hoosiers, I'm watching the arguments, I'm listening to the debate," he said.

Messer said the alliance between Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich to divide up the primary map, in an effort to deny New York businessman Donald Trump enough delegates to clinch the presidential nomination, is "not something that's going to impress" Indiana Republicans.

"Candidates need to be appealing to Hoosiers through policy and principle, not politics," he said, adding that the plan for Kasich not to challenge Cruz in Indiana has "disappointed" some voters in his home state who had already picked their candidate.

Messer said that Trump will "have to do the work" to bring the GOP together, should he win the Republican nomination for president.

"We won't win in the fall unless we come together as a party," he said.

Indiana is a winner-take-all primary state with 57 delegates up for grabs. A win there for Trump would help him attain the 1,237 delegates needed to nab the GOP presidential convention and avoid a contested convention in Cleveland.