Illini's last-second shot knocks off No. 1 Indiana
Indiana held the number one ranking for the first six weeks of the season before losing to Butler December 15. The Hoosiers returned to the top spot on Monday after knocking off top-ranked Michigan last Saturday. But IU's stay at the top will end quickly after Illinois beat the Hoosiers at the buzzer, 74-72, Thursday night.
Illinois (16-8, 3-7 Big Ten) outscored Indiana (20-3, 8-2 Big Ten) 15-3 in the final 4:21 of the game. With the game tied at 72, the Hoosiers we're going for the last shot when D.J. Richardson stole the ball from Victor Oladipo with seven seconds left. Richardson raced to the other end, but Oladipo recovered to block Richardson's layup attempt out of bounds with just 0.9 left on the clock. Tyler Griffey got loose on the ensuing inbounds play, cutting to the basket for a wide open layup, scoring as the horn went off for Illinois' third win in history over a number-one ranked team.
"It's something you enjoy," said Griffey, who scored 14 points and grabbed eight rebounds, "beating the number one team and coming in and getting the game winning shot. It's an unbelievable experience."
Indiana senior forward Christian Watford said after the game that he and freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell miscommunicated on the play, leaving Griffey free for the game winner.
"It's a tough one," said Watford, who scored 12 points and grabbed eight rebounds, but also committed six turnovers. "It's definitely a tough pill to swallow. But we've just got to learn from it. We definitely let one slip by us."
Indiana led by as many as 14 points in the first half. The Hoosiers still led by 10 points with 4:21 left in the second half.
"We didn't put them away when we had opportunities," said Indiana head coach Tom Crean. "When we turn the ball over, we're not very good."
The Hoosier committed 14 turnovers which the Illini converted into 28 points.
"We turned the ball over too much," said Indiana senior guard Jordan Hulls, who scored 11 points. "We gave them open shots. We didn't stick to the game plan."
"They're really good," said first year Illinois head coach John Groce of the Hoosiers. "They're well-coached. They've got great personnel. They run great stuff. They defend. We feel really fortunate to have beaten a really good Indiana basketball team."
Groce was born in Muncie, Indiana. His hometown is Danville, Indiana. Thursday, his team ended a three game losing streak against Indiana.
Richardson led the Illini with 23 points. Brandon Paul added 21. Illinois has beaten IU 10 of the last 11 games in Champaign.
Indiana becomes the 5th number one team to lose in the last five weeks.
"Teams are going to come at us whether we are one or five or ten," said Zeller, who led Indiana with 14 points and 9 rebounds. "We've got 'Indiana' across our chests, so we are going to get everyone's best shot."
Indiana plays at Ohio State Sunday.
"We can get a lot better," said Crean. "My lens is improvement. That's the lens I look at. I have to hope that we can get a group of guys on the team to look through that same lens. That's what the trick is. The teams that do that are the teams that are successful.