To call free throw shooting a problem for the 2008-2009 version of the Indiana Hoosiers would be an understatement. The foul line has been more of a major catastrophe.
Indiana (6-18, 1-11 Big Ten) hit just 11 of 24 free throws and fell 65-52 to Illinois on Sunday afternoon in front of the first sellout crowd this season at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers are shooting just 65 percent from the foul line this season, including 66 percent in Big Ten play.
After trailing 36-15 late in the first half, Indiana closed to within six at 54-48 with 6:27 remaining on a coast to coast layup by Malik Story. But the Illini (21-5, 9-4) immediately answered with a 3-pointer by Chester Frazier and Indiana never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
“We gave ourselves some chances at the end, but really, the way we played in the first half didn’t give us enough,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “Give them credit. They made enough plays and they went up to the free throw line and made the free throws.”
The loss set a school record for losses in a season (18) and tied a school record for Big Ten losses (11), a mark IU will almost certainly eclipse with six conference games remaining.
Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale scored 16 points apiece for Illinois, which won its third straight and remained in position to challenge Michigan State for the Big Ten title. The Illini are two games back and have a chance to make up one of those games in a March 1 meeting in Champaign with the Spartans.
Matt Roth was the only Hoosier in double figures with 13 points on 4 of 7 shooting. Verdell Jones III and Malik Story added nine points each and Nick Williams chipped in eight. Indiana was out-rebounded 37-27 and shot just 27 percent in the first half.
Up next: IU will host Wisconsin Thursday night at 9PM EST. The game will be broadcast on either ESPN or ESPN2.
Dumes still suspended; status unclear going forward: Devan Dumes served the second game of his indefinite suspension for his actions in the Michigan State game on February 7. No timetable for his return has been announced. “As far as Dumes’ situation, this is still very much a basketball issue. It’s nothing other than that. And so please don’t read into it that it is. This is a multiple incident type of thing over a couple of different games. I’ve been in consultation with the commissioner (Big Ten commissioner Jim Delaney), I’ve been in consultation certainly with AD Fred Glass and pretty much that’s it,” Crean said. And then added: “Every day is a different day, but I’m fully ready for him to be back with us and that’s what I’m looking forward to.”
Crean not happy with free throw question: An unidentified student reporter, presumably from Illinois, asked Crean about the team’s free throw shooting and didn’t get the response he was looking for. The question was, “Coach, under 50 percent for free throws, do you emphasize that?” Crean’s response: “No, I don’t emphasize it. What kind of question is that? Come on now, seriously. I don’t mean to be a jerk here, but come on now. You think we don’t shoot free throws? Nobody’s up there trying to miss a free throw. Yes we emphasize it, we have to get better at it.”
No love for Bruce: Chants of “Shut up Weber” could be heard throughout the day in Assembly Hall as Indiana fans voiced their displeasure towards the Illinois coach over his behavior following Eric Gordon’s commitment to IU.