Hoosiers Lose Heartbreaker to Illini
February 3, 2004Bloomington, Ind. - The Indiana men's basketball team suffered a heartbreaking defeat Tuesday evening, falling to Illinois, 51-49. The Hoosiers drop to 11-8 overall and 5-3 in the Big Ten, while the Fighting Illini improve to 14-5 with a 5-3 Big Ten mark.
The Hoosiers led the entire game until junior center Nick Smith hit a 10-footer to give the Illini a 49-48 lead with 3:28 remaining. After a Sean Kline free throw evened the game at 49-49, Smith struck once again, scoring the final points of the game on a baseline jumper with 2:41 left, giving Illinois a 51-49 lead and the win.
IU squandered several opportunities in the closing minutes and despite missing two front ends of a one-on-one down the stretch, the Fighting Illini held on for the two-point victory.
"This is the halfway mark of the Big Ten," said Indiana head coach Mike Davis. "We are 5-3. We would love to be 6-2, but I think 5-3 is pretty good for the first part of Big Ten play. It was a tough loss for us tonight because it was a home game. Going down the stretch of the game, I thought we should have been up 10 points, but we missed some easy shots and (Roger) Powell made some big plays for them defensively. We just didn't make any shots down the stretch."
It appeared Indiana had things in hand following a suffocating defensive performance in the first half. The Hoosiers held Illinois scoreless for the first 4:03 and tallied the first seven points of the game behind a trey from sophomore guard Bracey Wright and back-to-back buckets from senior forward A.J. Moye.
Freshman guard Roderick Wilmont drained his only basket of the game, a three-pointer, and the Hoosier defense continued to dominate as IU built a 15-5 lead with 9:40 remaining in the half.
Sophomore guard Marshall Strickland kept Indiana in the lead by scoring eight straight points, and Moye found Kline for a layup right before the end of the half as the Hoosiers took a 27-20 lead into the break.
In the half, the Hoosiers shot 50.0% (11-22) and held U of I to 29.0% (9-31) from the floor. The Illini's 20 points were the second-lowest point total allowed by IU in a half this season. Indiana held Michigan to 19 points in the opening frame in the team's 59-57 victory in Ann Arbor on Jan. 11.
Strickland led all scorers with 10 points in the first half with Moye adding seven points and four rebounds.
Both teams came out struggling early in the second half, but Wright helped IU maintain a 38-30 lead with four consecutive free throws after pulling down offensive rebounds on three straight trips.
The Illini sliced the lead to 42-38 when Moye staved off their rally once again, draining a 10-foot baseline jumper as the shot clock expired with 9:53 remaining. The shot turned out to be the Hoosiers' final field goal of the night.
Strickland continued the momentum with a strip of a James Augustine layup attempt. He pushed it coast-to-coast and converted two free throws after getting fouled on a layup attempt to push the lead back to eight points at 46-38.
Following a three-point basket by Luther Head, Moye took his second charge of the game, stepping in front of an Augustine layup attempt. He continued to be a force on the offensive end, hitting a pair of free throws to give Indiana a 48-45 lead with 4:48 remaining on the clock.
However, Powell nailed a jumper in the paint to close the gap to 48-47 at the 4:15 mark, and Smith closed out the game and the Hoosiers, scoring U of I's final four points.
"I thought both teams played great defensively," said Davis. "The only difference was they stepped up when they needed to and made their shots. We had wide-open looks, guys inside, we just have to make those shots."
Moye ended the evening with a team-high 14 points coupled with eight rebounds, while Strickland finished the night with 12 points.
Wright finished the game with nine points, only the second time this season he has failed to reach the double-figure plateau. He also added seven rebounds, including four on the offensive end.
Powell led Illinois with a game-high 15 points and a team-high eight rebounds. Sophomore guard Deron Williams added 12 points and dished out a game-high six assists, and Smith closed out the night with eight points.
Up next, the Hoosiers return to Assembly Hall on Saturday, Feb. 7 for a battle against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Tip-off is set for 4:37 p.m., and the game will be televised on ESPN Plus Regional. The match up can also be heard on the IU Radio Network with Don Fischer (p-b-p), Todd Leary (analysis) and Joe Smith (pre-game, halftime and post-game) on the call.
Check back soon