Overshadowed this week by UNC-Duke, the best rivalry in college basketball and Syracuse-Georgetown, the greatest in the Big East, is Illini vs. Hoosiers, a great rivalry in itself.
The all time series was tied at 83 entering tonight. However, Illinois was 5-1 in their last 6 versus IU. And that one loss in Bloomington last year was extremely fluky to say the least. After tonight, with Indiana winning 84-71, you can see the rivalry going more the way of #23 Indiana.
“Indiana just kicked our butts tonight,” said Illini guard D.J. Richardson who led the Illini with 19 points.
The Illini haven’t beaten a ranked team on the road since 2010.
If you don’t know how fierce this rivalry is, you needed to hear the IU students yelling while they waited to enter the Assembly Hall student section. They reopened the Eric Gordon wound, and ripped Bruce Weber for his lack of job security. Inside, they taunted Weber with chants of “shut up Bruce!” Stay classy you kids in Bloomington!
Meyers Leonard had a huge first half with 15 points, but got into major foul trouble in the second half and scored just one bucket in the second 20 minutes.
There’s no doubt that Leonard and Cody Zeller are the best big men in the Big Ten, but Zeller clearly won the second half match-up and the overall battle as he was the game’s high scorer with 22. Amazingly, he did it on just 5-9 from the field. He went 12-14 from the line.
The Hoosiers are also known for their three-ball game. Matt Roth is first in the Big Ten in three point field goal percentage, Jordan Hulls 2nd, and Christian Watford 6th.
In addition to Zeller’s 22, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford had 18 points, while Hulls added 15.
Both groups of fans seem to especially hate the officiating tonight. Even the Indiana fans, even though they had a very decided advantage in this category. Illinois was 12-15 from the line, while Indiana finished 35-42. That’s a huge discrepancy!
“The fouls in the first half they were legit, the second half, I’m not so sure about to be honest, but you have to adjust,” Weber said after the game.
Weber saw three of his players foul out tonight, including Nnanna Egwu who “accomplished” the feat in just 13 minutes.
“I think he leads the country in fouls per minute, but he has great spirit and he wants to win more than anybody,” Weber said of Egwu.
“You have to execute under pressure, that’s one of the greatest forms of toughness you can have,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said.
“But you have to be able to play through contact as well.”
The Hoosiers are now 19-6, 7-6 in conference play. Illinois falls to 16-8, 5-6 in conference.
“Our defense had been pretty solid. And a week ago Tuesday we hold somebody (Michigan State) to 41 and their lowest field goal percentage, and I don’t think we did anything different, it’s tough to go on the road and they’re one of the best offensive teams in the country,” Weber said.
Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.