Welcome to the TCR GameThread! The Fighting Illini are hosting No. 18 Indiana tonight at the State Farm Center, and Steve Bourbon (@steve_bourbon) will be covering the action for us. We'll be tweeting out links to this page as it updates so make sure to follow us on Twitter at @Champaign_Room.
In the meantime, feel free to drop down to the comments section to discuss tonight's contest with other members of the community. Jim Vainisi (@JimVainisi) will have a recap up shortly after the game concludes; all postgame discussion should take place there.
FINAL: INDIANA 74, ILLINOIS 47
So after the 14-4 lead it's... 70-33?— Robert (@ALionEye) February 26, 2016
2nd half..— Derek Piper (@DPiperScout) February 26, 2016
Indiana: 40#Illini: 16
3:58 left: IU 61, ILL 44
Ferrell finally missed a three, but Thomas Bryant tosses aside Khalid Lewis for an offensive rebound and-one. IU winning the second half 34-16.
6:48 left: IU 56, ILL 42
Hill knocks down a long two, then a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions. His first points.
Finke's three that would have cut it to 45-40 was just short, and IU has scored 11 points from there. Looking like another ESPN blowout— Alex Roux (@aroux94) February 26, 2016
7:54 left: IU 56, ILL 37
This is an avalanche of threes right now. Scarily similar to the blowout in Bloomington earlier this year. Also, the lineup of Lewis, Nunn, JCL, Williams, and Mav is spacing death. Three total non-shooters on the floor.
9:36 left: IU 50, ILL 37
Illini not named JCL are 0-10 from 3-point land. JCL has 18, but this game is slipping away.
12:41 left: IU 45, ILL 33
Remember when I said Illinois needed to compete on the boards? 8-1 rebounding advantage for Indiana turns into an 18-5 IU run.
12:41 left: IU 45, ILL 33
Indiana was 3-for-15 from 3-point range in the first half. 4-of-6 so far in the second half, including a pair of deeeeep ones.
14:35 left: IU 42, ILL 33
Danger time for Illini. Hoosiers are 5-of-7, including three 3-pointers, to start the half. Positive: JCL just tied DJ Richardson for the Illinois freshman record for 3-pointers made in a season.
16:21 left: IU 34, ILL 31
JCL knocks down his fourth 3-pointer of the game but Bryant has seven points already in the half.
2ND HALF -- 19:22 left: IU 29, ILL 28
Shot clock issue stops play. Thomas Bryant bullied Mav in the post for the only bucket of the half.
THE GIF TO END ALL GIFS
Yeah OK I know you wanted it. pic.twitter.com/GEgI0a6HVk— Big Ten Geeks (@bigtengeeks) February 26, 2016
Well that was pretty good. If I told you that Malcolm Hill had zero points and picked up two fouls in the first 10 minutes, you would think Illinois was down a bazillion, more or less. Instead, it's a 28-27 lead for the Illini, thanks to Jalen Coleman-Lands. The freshie had 11 points, including a trio of 3-pointers to pace Illinois, including a deep heat check that induced a Groce-Dakich fist bump. Yogi Ferrell had eight points to lead IU.
Here's the key to the second half: Illinois needs to stay *competitive* on the glass. Indiana led the rebounding margin 18-11, including 6-to-1 in offensive rebounds. Illinois isn't going to win the rebound battle, but just mitigate the Hoosiers' advantage enough to be able to stay small. I liked what I saw in this area so far (Khalid Lewis had a heroic box out late in the first half) but it's got to continue in the second half. And obviously, the less 6-minute scoring droughts, the better.
HALFTIME: ILL 28, IU 27
JCL hits a 3 ... Dan Dakich and John Groce share a fist bump. #Illini up 28-27 with 0:23.4 left in 1st half.— Scott Richey (@srrichey) February 26, 2016
1:51 left: IU 27, ILL 25
Malcolm Hill takes his first shot of the night: a missed three from the top of the key.
13 combined turnovers in first 15 minutes. Yuck.— Jeremy Werner (@JWernerScout) February 26, 2016
5:53 left: IU 20, ILL 18
Malcolm Hill has yet to score or take a shot.
7:04 left: IU 18, ILL 16
IU on a 14-2 run. Illinois went 6+ minutes without scoring. We've seen this show before. Illinois defense doing a good(ish) job of making Indiana work the shot clock and not get out in transition.
Kendrick Nunn with a layup to snap more than 6-minute long scoreless streak for #Illini— Scott Richey (@srrichey) February 26, 2016
10:25 left: ILL 14, IU 12
Two fouls for Malcolm Hill. Ruh roh.
11:29 left: ILL 14, IU 10
Dakich saying "we" when referring to the Illinois coaching staff is getting old pretty quick, huh?
11:45 left: ILL 14, IU 10
Biefeldt has had two point-blank shots at the rim (made one). He's a problem if he can use his size vs. Hill. Groce goes zone and Farrell gets a layup.
1st half -- 15:43 left: ILL 12, IU 4
JCL with a pair of 3's and Mav with a fade-away out of the post + midrange jumper. Great start for Illinois.
1st Half -- 20:00 mins left
Hoosiers win the tip. Here we go.
This game is intriguing for Illini fans. Everyone probably remembers (although they wish they could forget) the 103-69 shellacking in these teams first meeting in Bloomington, but I'm interested to see how Illinois responds. Not letting Indiana make 19 3-pointers this time around would be a good start. While Illinois will have a hard time evaluating John Groce as a head coach in the big picture due to injuries and such, tonight's game can be a talking point for either Groce supporters or detractors, depending on its outcome. Yes, Illinois has had more injuries than probably any team in the Big Ten, but the Illini will have basically the same unit that got stomped by the Hoosiers a month ago -- the lone player missing from that game will be Mike Thorne, Jr. but he came off the bench in that game.
Here's why it's intriguing: How do you respond to adversity? The Illini (should) know pretty much everything Indiana is going to run offensively, and vice versa. Can Groce make adjustments from last time? Hell, can Groce even get this team motivated to bounce back from one of its worst performances in a season full of letdowns? Indiana can stay in sole possession of 1st place in the Big Ten with a win, so they won't be overlooking the Illini. The last time I looked, Illinois was a 7.5-point home underdog according to Vegas, so they seem to think this time around won't be such a blowout either. Am I hoping for too much from this team to keep it competitive? Maybe. But we'll see.