Illinois 65, Indiana 52.

Here's the box score. Illinois played an excellent first half on both sides of the ball and built enough of a cushion to withstand an IU rally. The Illini shot 63 percent in the first half and held IU to 27 percent shooting in that half. In the first half, IU had an equal number of turnovers and field goals (6). In the second half, thanks to a triangle-and-two defense lauded by the CBS announcers, IU stymied the Illinois offense a bit and managed to pull within 6 with a Malik Story layup at 6:27. After a missed three pointer by Verdell Jones, Illinois's Chester Frazier, typically not a three point shooter, hit an open three pointer, and IU never really challenged after that.

IU's turnover numbers were modestly better. They turned the ball over 13 times in a 59 possession game. The slow pace exaggerates it a bit, but the 22 percent figure still makes it one of IU's better performances of the season in that regard. On the downside, the rebounding stats, one of the few bright spots of IU's trip to Illinois, were almost completely reversed in this game. The Hoosiers pulled down only 25 percent of their own misses (second worst performance of the season) and Illinois ended up with 40 percent of its misses, IU's fourth worst performance of the season. Most disappointing was the 11-24 performance from the free throw line. Illinois committed 20 fouls to IU's 14, but IU could have made the game much more competitive by making a respectable number of free throws.

Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale led the way for Illinois, each scoring 16 points on 12 shots. Trent Meacham and Dominique Keller led the way during the road loss in Champaign, but didn't play huge roles today. Illinois's balanced offense could help the Illini in March. There was plenty of strutting and posing in the first half, which led to some sort of discussion/staredown between Tom Crean and Davis. I haven't read anything about it in the media, and Crean deflected a question about taunting during his press conference. In the second half, Calvin Brock got a technical for what appeared to be an inadvertent collision with Kyle Taber while dancing after a made basket. It was a tough call, but I'll take it as payback for the officials' refusal to T up Chester Frazier in Champaign last year.

As for IU's individuals:
  • Tom Prtichard again wasn't much of a factor. He scored 7 points on 6 attempts and had 4 rebounds in 36 minutes.
  • Kyle Taber, although chewed out by Crean late in the first half, had a game more reminiscent of his performances last season, when he wasn't asked to shoulder as much of a burden. He scored 5 points on 2-3 from the field, had 7 rebounds, and didn't turn the ball over. Do no harm.
  • Matt Roth was IU's leading scorer, scoring 13 points on 4-7 from the field, 3-6 from behind the arc.
  • Verdell Jones had a couple of nice plays, but 5 of IU's 13 turnovers.
  • Devan Dumes sat out his second consecutive game as part of his indefinite suspension for elbows against Northwestern and Michigan State. I won't quote it, because it appears only as part of Peegs's premium content (i.e., the IU Pravda site didn't reproduce the whole press conference transcript), but there's at least a suggestion that IU is getting pressure from Jim Delany not to bring Dumes back quite yet. Figures.
It's hard to believe, but the season is winding down. Only six regular season games remain. IU hosts Wisconsin on Wednesday night, travels to Purdue on Saturday, and hosts Northwestern a week from Wednesday. The Badgers have rebounded nicely from their six game losing streak, but aren't as strong as in recent years. Northwestern , now 4-8 in the conference, seems to have firmly pissed away its best chance ever for a NCAA bid with gut-wrenching home losses to Illinois and Michigan. These next two home games, plus the possibility of catching the 6 seed napping in the Big Ten Tournament, probably are IU's only real opportunities to win again this season. The Purdue game, while nearly a certain loss, will be an opportunity for the Hoosiers to try to stay close to a better team that will be looking to humiliate them.


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