Morgan scores 20 to lead Indiana over Illinois 92-74
By TERRY TOWERY
CHAMMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Juwan Morgan scored 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds as Indiana cruised to a 92-74 win over Illinois on Thursday night.
The win could land Indiana (16-14, 7-12 Big Ten) a low-seed berth in the NCAA Tournament.
Rob Phinisee added 17 points and Justin Smith 15 points for the Hoosiers.
Ayo Dosunmu led the Illini with 16 points, while Giorgi Bezhanishvili and Trent Frazier added 15 and 13 points, respectively.
The loss closed out the home season for Illinois (11-19, 7-12).
"That was a good win for our guys," said Indiana coach Archie Miller. "Everyone handled the ball well. Rob (Phinisee) did a great job and that made the game comfortable for us."
Illinois coach Brad Underwood agreed.
"You have to give Rob all the credit in the world," Underwood said. "He's a tremendous player and he had a fabulous night tonight."
Both teams shot well. The Hoosiers shot 36 of 65 from the field for 55 percent, compared to Illinois' 26 of 52 (50 percent).
"When your team shoots 50 percent from the field and 55 percent (10 of 21) from the 3-point line, you have to like your chances," Underwood said. "Unfortunately, it didn't pan out for us tonight."
The Hoosiers scored 52 points in the paint, which pleased Miller.
"I think we earned some of our confidence back," he said.
The Hoosiers were in control for most of the game, leading by as many as 22 points before Illinois went on a 6-0 run to close to within 13 points at 80-67 with 5:22 left. But Indiana took advantage of an obviously tired Illinois defense and iced the game.
"Neither defense played well," Miller said. "Ours had some particular problems making stops until the end."
Despite hitting 7 of 13 3-pointers in the first half, Illinois seemed out of synch and trailed 52-42 at the half.
THE BIG PICTURE
Thursday's game had conference tournament implications for both teams.
Indiana likely will have a first-round bye in the tournament, while Illinois could find itself playing next Wednesday.
Indiana's wins last week at home over Wisconsin and Michigan State have thrust the Hoosiers back into the NCAA Tournament conversation, but they would need to beat Rutgers at home to have a chance.
THEY SAID IT
DOSUNMU: "Our defense was atrocious tonight. We couldn't guard anyone. We played with no urgency."
UNDERWOOD: "This one blindsided me. We had a fabulous week of practices. If you could have seen this team at practice yesterday, they were just off the charts."
WILL HE OR WON'T HE?
"He (Dosunmu) is going to be one of the best players in the conference if he stays at it," Indiana coach Miller said.
Miller likely was referencing rumors that Dosunmu, a true freshman and the team's leading scorer, might forgo his college career and enter the NBA draft.
Dosunmu, as has been the case all year, was noncommittal.
"You know, I'm just trying to focus on this team. I don't worry about that other stuff. It will take care of itself."
Indiana won the first matchup with Illinois 73-65 on Jan. 3 in Bloomington. The Hoosiers join Wisconsin as the only teams in the conference to sweep Illinois.
Indiana: Ends the regular season at home against Rutgers on Sunday.
Illinois: Travels to Penn State to close its regular season on Sunday.
Updated March 7, 2019