Illini open Big Ten with 83-80 overtime win over Hoosiers

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 31, 2013
Indiana turned the ball over 23 times at Illinois on Saturday. Down the stretch, the Hoosiers could barely buy a point from the field. Yet at the end of overtime, there they were, hitting free throws and staying close. It wasn't enough. The Hoosiers (10-4) lost their Big Ten Conference opener to the Illini, 83-80. But Indiana coach Tom Crean said he was proud of just how close his young team had come. "We fought, we battled. And we just didn't get the result at the end," he said. "(Even) with the turnovers and things like that, we were still where we needed to be." But Illinois (12-2), playing in front of a loud, sometimes angry crowd, was too much. Ten months after knocking off then-No. 1 Indiana with a buzzer beater in Champaign, Ill., coach John Groce credited tight, scrappy defense for the win. "We've got some tough dudes. We take a lot of pride in that," Groce said. "But to (Indiana's) credit, they do, too." Rayvonte Rice led Illinois with 29 points and Tracy Abrams added 17. Yogi Ferrell led Indiana with a game-high 30 points, and played 43 minutes, staying on the court through the overtime. Hoosiers freshman Noah Vonleh finished with 16 points and nine rebounds. But he fouled out near the end of overtime after sitting for a long stretch with four fouls. "We took him out because we knew it was going to be a long overtime," Crean said. The game came down to free throws - some made, some misses - and the final half-minute of overtime was a wild scramble. Jon Ekey stole a pass from Vonleh in the Indiana lane with 25 seconds to play and Illinois up 78-75. But Rice missed the free throws that resulted from the possession. Rice fouled Will Sheehey at the other end, Sheehey sank both shots and Indiana was right back in it 78-77 with 22 seconds to play. But on the next possession Troy Williams fouled Nnanna Egwu, sending the 6-foot-11 center to the line. Egwu had been cold most of the afternoon, from anywhere on the court. That included a series of misses on long jumpers. He finished the game 3 of 11 from the field, including 0 of 5 on 3-point shots. But he sank the two free throws and gave the Illini a tiny bit of breathing room they made stick. Illinois never trailed in the overtime, and held the Hoosiers to a single field goal, a 3-pointer by Ferrell with 4 seconds to play that pulled them to within a point, 81-80. But, forced to foul, Indiana had to hope the Illini would go cold. Rice drew the foul, hit his final free throws and sealed the win. He said the free throws he'd just missed didn't affect him when he returned to the line. "It's just mental," he said. "Just go up there and knock them down." Rice, a Champaign native who transferred from Drake and sat out last season, said toughness and gritty defense are things Groce has preached. "Coach emphasized that from the first day," he said. "Just giving the extra effort, being tough." One play late in the first half illustrated the degree to which Rice adds to that toughness for Illinois. Tied at 36, Indiana moved up court, settling in to look for the final shot of the half. But Rice cut off a pass, stealing the ball and driving for a layup. Rice was fouled by a stunned-looking Sheehey, and grinned big before he went to the line, hit the free throw and put Illinois back on top, 39-36 with 28 seconds left. But, as Groce said, Indiana brought its own grit to the game. When the Hoosiers went the other way, it was Sheehey who buried a 3-pointer for a 39-39 halftime tie. "We fought like crazy," Crean said, noting that the Illini just fought a little harder, winning loose balls and creating opportunities. "That kind of hustle and effort and intensity is going to carry them a long way."
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Jay Gruden gives out primo parking spots to hard-working players

Report: Colts' Jones suspended four games for PED use

Report: Royals have interest in Nick Markakis

Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence 911 call released

Manu Ginobili talks interest in 76ers before sticking with Spurs

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Lakers reportedly have ‘unnamed trade target in mind

Report: Rodman a 'person of interest' in hit-and-run

Draymond Green reaches plea deal in assault case

Evander Kane arrested after turning himself in

Former NFL coach Dennis Green passes away

Michael Vick says he would only sign with contender

Why the Clippers shouldn't break up their big three

White Sox pay homage to Bo Jackson’s bat-breaking skills with bobblehead

Orioles affiliate pay tribute to David Bowie on their jerseys

Report: Rangers pushing trade efforts for Sale

Russell Martin day-to-day after sauna-related mishap

Celtics reportedly unwilling to give up much for Jahlil Okafor

Report: Jay Bruce drawing trade interest

Vitale: Trump’s speech “filled with lies,” might write in Coach K

Report: Nationals ‘want in’ on Chapman sweepstakes

Hornets co-owner blasts NBA, city for taking away All-Star Game

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

Vikings installing massive horn in new stadium

All Sports News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Effect of ban on Russia could span beyond the Olympic Games

One Gotta Go: NBA players hate Facebook too

QUIZ: Name every city to host the NBA All-Star Game

One Gotta Go: NBA players settle the fast food beef

One Gotta Go: NBA players make tough choices on their favorite rappers

One Gotta Go: NBA Summer League is not about that Game of Thrones life

The top NHL free agents available as offseason winds down

WATCH: NBA jersey sponsors that need to happen

Expansion draft playing heavy hand in the current NHL offseason

WATCH: Pop & Timmy have a guys' night out

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker