Again, the box score is in the post below. This game occurred at about the same point in the season as did last year's home collapse against Michigan, and felt much the same. The first half was a fairly strange spectacle. IU led by 13 at the half despite being outshot 23-12 from the line. At halftime, Illinois had scored 16 points on free throws and 12 points on only five made field goals. Of course, it was inevitable that IU's hot shooting and Illinois's poor shooting would revert to the mean in some way. Instead, of course, the teams had nearly mirror image halves in terms of field goal percentage.
Really, the Illinois defense was the decisive factor in the second half. IU shot only 1-11 from three point range after shooting 5-6 in the first half. IU managed only 8 field goals in the second half and struggled to get the ball inside the arc with any effectiveness. Ultimately, despite some fine play by the Hoosiers in the second half, the Illini won because they got to the line, rebounded well, and took care of the ball. I didn't care much for the way the game was called, but I realize I'm not an objective source, but the Illini took advantage of their free throws. Illinois big man Mike Tisdale led all scorers with 27 points, and 13 of them came on free throws (and he only missed one).
The individuals, for IU:
- Jordan Hulls scored 12 points, but all came in the first half.
- Verdell Jones led IU with 13 points against his hometown team but was 0-4 from three point range and 5-13 overall.
Jeremiah Rivers was 3-6 from the field but had 4 turnovers.
- Devan Dumes scored 10 points in only 19 minutes but was 3-9 from the field.
- Christian Watford scored 10 points on 5-14 from the field, but hsi most crucial shot, the front end of a one and one in the final two minutes of the game when the Hoosiers trailed by 1, was a miss.
As I said before, this was a very frustrating game because of the way it went and because of the opponent. Watching Bruce Weber throw a T-worthy tantrum when his team was scoring nearly half of its points at the line made me hope IU could send him home with something to cry about, but it wasn't to be. IU's next four games present some opportunities. On Thursday, IU plays at Michigan. The Wolverines just blew a home game to Northwestern. On Sunday, IU hosts Minnesota, a good team but one that is only 2-4 away from the Barn. The week after that, IU travels to Penn State, which lost to Michigan at home, and then hosts Iowa. The schedule toughens up a bit after that, and the next four weeks are an excellent opportunity for the Hoosiers. Hopefully the squandered opportunity against Illinois won't be the last opportunity.