Illinois Shocks #1 Indiana at BuzzerBy Daniel J.
It seems as though one is not the Indiana Hoosiers’ lucky number.
Indiana climbed to the top of the NCAA men’s hoops rankings for the third time this season this week and for the third time they lost a game Thursday night, this time to their conference rival, Illinois.
The Fighting Illini picked up just their third Big Ten win of the season when Tyler Griffey broke a 72-72 tie by streaking wide open to the basket and scoring a layup with just 0.9 seconds to go, beating the buzzer and beating the Hoosiers 74-72. It was a much needed win for Illinois, who had dropped eight of their last 11 games after starting the season 12-0.
“It was good to get back to having that toughness and togetherness and trust that we needed,” Illinois coach John Groce said, according to ESPN.com.
Senior D.J. Richardson led the way for Illinois with 23 points. Brandon Paul added 21 and Griffey scored 14 and collected eight rebounds in the win. Meanwhile, no one for Indiana hit 15 points. Cody Zeller led his squad with 14 in the loss.
While the win keeps Illinois’ postseason tournament hopes alive, the loss for Indiana drops it into a three-way tie for first place in the Big Ten standings with Michigan and Michigan State. The Hoosiers obviously aren’t in any danger of missing the NCAA tourney, but they are clearly in danger of losing a number one seed.
The reason for the loss was certainly not Indiana’s shooting. The Hoosiers hit 50% of their shots from the field and more than 50% from three-point range, but turned the ball over far too often and failed to capitalize on the other end when Illinois gave the ball up.
“I know this, when we turn the ball over we’re not very good,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “And the biggest difference tonight was 28 points off turnovers to our 16.”
With two games left to play against Ohio State and games against Michigan and Michigan State coming up on the schedule, Indiana will have to get things sorted out if they want to win the Big Ten this season. At the moment, it looks like Michigan is the odds on favorite, but with four teams ranked in the top 10, it’s anyone’s ballgame.