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From the 2:49 mark onward, the Illini finished Thursday night’s upset on a 12-2 run (13-2 over the last 3:33). Beyond Indiana’s breakdown on the final play of the ballgame, the Hoosiers were also out-executed on D.J. Richardson’s back-to-back 3-pointers.
A look at these three plays, as well as Indiana’s final possession in the latest edition of Film Session:
I. FIRST RICHARDSON 3-POINTER
On an inbounds play on the baseline, Tyler Griffey and and D.J. Richardson come to meet inbetween the left wing and the left elbow:
Griffey eventually gets a body on Sheehey, and Richardson pops out and starts to make a move and curls to the corner:
Griffey continues to get a body into Sheehey. Sam McLaurin is now involved. As Watford looks to switch and follow Richardson, here comes another screen from McLaurin:
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — After leading by 14 points on two separate occasions, Indiana couldn’t hold on Thursday night at Assembly Hall and the No. 1 Hoosiers dropped their second conference game 74-72 to Illinois. The loss moved IU into a three-way tie with Michigan and Michigan State for the Big Ten lead.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from IU’s loss to the Fighting Illini:
· About that final play: Tyler Griffey’s game-winning, wide-open layup will get all of the headlines, but Indiana’s inability to put Illinois away when it had the chance is the real story of this loss. One particular sequence that stood out: The Hoosiers led 55-41 with 12:55 remaining following a Will Sheehey dunk. Hanner Mosquera-Perea was subbed in for Cody Zeller at the 12:45 mark and gave up a layup and then a 3-point play. The Hoosiers would extend the lead back to double digits on a couple more occasions, but when there’s blood in the water on the road, allowing an opponent to quickly regain momentum can prove costly. “We didn’t put them away when we had the opportunity,” Tom Crean said postgame. “That’s really the bottom line.”
· Sheehey’s technical was unnecessary and costly: It may have seemed harmless at the time because Indiana was beginning to open things up on Illinois late in the first half, but the technical foul on Sheehey ended up being a crucial mistake. Debating whether the technical was deserved is futile, but it’s fair to wonder if Sheehey’s antics on the bench and also in the win at Purdue have given him a reputation with officials. Playing with an edge is one thing, but when it leads to picking up an unnecessary technical foul, it may be time to dial it back and just play.
· Cody Zeller didn’t get enough field goal attempts: Illinois had no one on its roster capable of guarding Cody Zeller and IU failed to take advantage of the foul trouble that plagued Nnanna Egwu all night. Zeller finished the night with just six field goal attempts. Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo, Yogi Ferrell and Sheehey all had more looks. Does Indiana need to do a better job of finding Zeller? Does Zeller need to do a better job of establishing position and calling for the ball? Probably a little bit of both, but when there’s a clear mismatch, Indiana needs to exploit it. Zeller still finished with a team-high 14 points because he got to the foul line six times (all in the first half), but getting the ball inside as the lead was evaporating may have changed the outcome.
No. 1 Indiana was outscored 13-2 down the stretch Thursday night, so the game’s final play certainly wasn’t the only reason the Hoosiers fell 74-72 at Illinois. But since it was what ultimately ended the game, let’s take a closer look at the way Illinois scored the deciding two.
Brandon Paul, who had scored 21 points, took the ball out for the Illini with Victor Oladipo guarding him. Sam McLaurin lined up in the corner guarded by Cody Zeller. D.J. Richardson, who shot Illinois back into the game late, came off a high screen from Tyler Griffey and wound up well behind the 3-point line on the right wing. Richardson was initially guarded by Yogi Ferrell and Griffey by Christian Watford, but the Hoosiers switched on the screen. Joseph Bertrand was on the other side of the court, guarded by Will Sheehey.
After the initial screen didn’t produce any results, Richardson continued to move toward the right baseline and the inbounder, Paul. Watford attempted to follow Richardson. McLaurin, meanwhile, set a hard screen on Ferrell, and Griffey cut to the basket. But Zeller, who looked like he was supposed to switch with Ferrell after the McLaurin screen, didn’t follow Griffey.
Layup and ballgame.
“It was a broken play for them,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward. “We were not going to give them a chance to set up and win the game on a lob. They were out of timeouts, we had two, I wouldn’t change that for a second, not calling a timeout there. We just didn’t communicate well. … Pressure of the moment a little bit.”
Added Zeller: “I guess it was just a miscommunication. I haven’t seen it yet.”
Hoosiers can’t put the game away
In the end, the Hoosiers lost on Thursday because of a bad defensive breakdown. But they would never have been in that situation if they had continued to execute offensively down the stretch like they had for much of the game. Indiana was so good offensively at times in the game that ESPN’s Seth Greenberg said the Hoosiers were “putting on an offensive clinic” during the halftime show.
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Tom Crean met with the media following No. 1 Indiana’s 74-72 loss to Illinois at Assembly Hall on Thursday evening.
Watch and listen to his postgame comments in the embedded media player below:
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Jordan Hulls met with the media following No. 1 Indiana’s 74-72 loss to Illinois on Thursday at Assembly Hall.
Watch and listen to their postgame comments in the embedded media player below:
Thoughts on a 74-72 loss at the hands of the Illini:
“We didn’t put them away when we had the opportunity. That’s really the bottom line.” — Tom Crean
The Illini hung tight, never letting the Hoosiers step on their throats, never letting this game reach blowout territory. So they would stay within striking distance all second half, the lead oscillating between 6-13 for the first 17-plus minutes. And then it happened. On a night when the Illini had been struggling from distance once again in conference play, D.J. Richardson connected on a triple to cut the lead to five at the 2:49 mark. An empty Indiana possession. Another Richardson 3-pointer. Lead down to two. A missed Will Sheehey 3-pointer, a Richardson jumper, a tie ballgame at 70-all.
But there was Victor Oladipo, so calm and cool, driving to the bucket and scoring to put the Hoosiers back on top. Oladipo fouled Paul on the ensuing Illini possession. He would badly overshoot his first free throw; it hit the backboard, the rim, and the backboard once more before finding its way into the net. Just the way he drew it up. His second would fall. We were tied once more.
Indiana’s last possession of the ballgame saw Oladipo trying to go behind his back. It resulted in a turnover and Richardson was about to put the Illini up again. But Oladipo, so calm and cool, would chase down Richardson and swat his shot into the stands. Just 0.9 remained. The Illini needed a miracle or we were headed to OT. They got it. The Hoosiers got crossed up on the inbounds. Watford, who had been marking Tyler Griffey, switched with Yogi Ferrell and went with Richardson on a screen near the right corner. Another screen came from Sam McLaurin, and Griffey cut to the basket behind Cody Zeller’s and Ferrell’s back and had a free run to the hoop. Griffey, who had missed a bunny just minutes earlier and had scored just 14 points over his last five games, scored his 14th tonight at the buzzer to pull off the upset.
No. 1 falls once more this season in college hoops on the strength of a 13-2 finishing run for the Illini, and Indiana’s second grasp on the top spot in the land is gone with it.
II. Tweeted this in the closing minutes of this one, but get this: Indiana, a team that runs and runs and runs, did not score a single fast break point tonight. But it (almost) didn’t matter the Hoosiers weren’t getting their normal easy looks in transition, because they were strong enough in the halfcourt tonight (1.15 points per possession). Time and again, Indiana would attract the Illinois defense and find the open man. It allowed them several strong looks from 3, and they hit over 50 percent of them (9-of-17). This included two from Jeremy Hollowell who hadn’t hit one from distance since Dec. 1 against Coppin State.