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No. 10 Illinois sneaks past Indiana in bounceback win

Despite struggling from the floor, the Illini were able to come out on top.

TCR // Jack Jungmann

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — It hasn’t been easy for road teams to win Big Ten games this season.

But No. 10 Illinois keeps letting teams stick around in Champaign.

Despite a slow start, the Illini held home court and secured a 70-62 get-right win over a scuffling Indiana team on Saturday afternoon at State Farm Center. Marcus Domask led the way with 16 points, but four free throws from Terrence Shannon Jr. and a late Justin Harmon floater proved to be the daggers.

By no means was it pretty though.

You don’t even have to look back two weeks to find the last home loss in conference for the Illini when they dropped a game to Maryland 76-67. With a now 4-1 record at home in Big Ten play, this team still never fails to make fans sweat.

At the midway point of the first half, Illinois (15-5, 6-3) found themselves trailing Indiana 14-8. The orange and blue started 4-of-18 from the field and 0-of-7 from three in the first 10 minutes.

“We started out kind of slow, but we were getting good looks,” said Luke Goode. “Even myself, I was 0-for-3 on wide open shots that I usually make.”

Illinois took its first lead of the game at 29-28 with just under three minutes left in the first half.

“I thought our aggressiveness today guarding the basketball was as bad as we’ve had,” said Brad Underwood. “I just thought we were passive.”

Even with the overall shooting struggles, Illinois lit it up with a 12-2 run near the end of the half and led by 4 at the break.

Indiana’s Malik Reneau led all scorers after the first with 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

Illinois once again found themselves playing from behind to start the second as the Hoosiers (12-8, 4-5) went on a 13-0 run that lasted over five minutes.

“We were just soft on the ball and that’s not good,” Underwood said. “That’s not who we are, it’s not what we’ve been.”

Shooting 37.1% from the floor won’t get you a win on most nights, but Illinois was able to finally put it together in the final 10 minutes.

The Illini were able to compile an 11-1 run of their own taking a 53-50 lead with under eight minutes remaining.

In a back and forth second half, things were all tied up at 62-62 with just over a minute left. TSJ was able to ice the game with two free throws in the last 15 seconds.

“He was and still is an All-American talent,” Goode said. “We know what he means to our team.”

Despite the clutch shots at the end, Shannon struggled once again, finishing with a season low 25 minutes and 12 points on 2-of-10 shooting.

“In a lot of ways we got Terrence going a little bit at the end,” Underwood said. “We haven’t had a lot of practice time with him, he was holding the ball too much.”

Even with the much needed win, Illinois had flashbacks to last year with an abysmal performance from behind the arc. The orange and blue shot just 30.4% from three on 7-of-23 shooting.

“It’s a long stretch so obviously the team is going to get a little tired,” said Coleman Hawkins. “We come out and compete everyday at practice even though we’re tired.”

At the end of the day, a win is a win no matter how ugly the game turns out to be. The Illini will look to improve moving forward as they find themselves in sole possession of third place in the Big Ten.

“Really proud of our guys because you have to win these games,” Underwood said. “You have to find a way.”

YOU GOTTA SEE THIS

Domask with the bucket and the foul.

Dain Dainja gave Illinois a spark with this slam.

Things got HEATED at the end of the first half.

SOUND SMART

  • The Illinois bench showed up big in this one, outscoring the Hoosiers 11-0 in the first half and 21-2 overall.
  • The Illini’s perimeter defense was as stingy as ever today, holding Indiana to 0-of-9 from three in the game. “We won because we didn’t give them threes,” Underwood said.
  • Both teams struggled mightily from the charity stripe, as Illinois finished 17-of-26 and the Hoosiers shot just 12-of-22 from the line.
  • The orange and blue found themselves trailing for most of this one, as they only had the lead for around 15 and a half minutes.
  • Illinois broke a three-game losing streak to Indiana with Saturday’s win.

TWEET OF THE GAME

How can you not love the Underwoods?

UP NEXT

Illinois will head to Columbus to take on Ohio State on Tuesday.

Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. on Peacock. Yes, Peacock.