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Illinois stuns No. 1 Indiana 74-72

Thursday, February 7, 2013 - 9:18 pm

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Top-ranked Indiana gave up a layup with less than a second left and lost to previously struggling Illinois 74-72 Thursday night.

The Hoosiers had a 70-61 lead when the Illini made their run. A defensive blunder allowed Tyler Griffey to break free for a layup just ahead of the buzzer for the game winner.

IU fell into a first-place tie in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State. All three are 8-2.

The Hoosiers (20-3 overall) were led by Cody Zeller’s 14 points and nine rebounds. Will Sheehey came off the bench for 13 points. Christian Watford had 12 points and eight rebounds. Jordan Hulls had 11points.

Illinois (16-8, 3-7), which had lost five of its last six games, was led by D.J. Richardson’s 23 points. Brandon Paul had 21 points. Griffey had 14 points and eight rebounds.

Sheehey sparked IU’s first-half surge. His 10 points on 5-for-6 shooting helped the Hoosiers build a 12-point halftime lead.

Watford needed just 10 seconds to show his three-point shooting skills, but Illinois quickly countered with three-pointers from Paul and Richardson.

Early Hoosier turnovers caused a problem (they had six after seven minutes), but their defense kept them in control.

Once IU stopped turning it over (it ended the half with just six), its offense became more efficient. It shot 56 percent from the field and made 5-of-8 three-pointers. It also held Illinois to 34.5 percent shooting, including 4-for-11 from three-point range.

Add the Hoosiers 16-13 rebound edge and you had a 41-29 halftime lead.

Illinois made run to cut the lead to six after four minutes.

Enter Sheehey.

Hulls got free for a three. Zeller scored on a tip-in. Ferrell hit a three-pointer. Sheehey dunked and didn’t taunt.

The Hoosiers pushed ahead by 14. The Illini pushed back to within six.

Then IU ran its offense to perfection, using nearly the entire 35 seconds before Ferrell passed to Zeller for a dunk. The Hoosiers led 70-61 when Richardson caught fire. He scored eight straight points to forge a 70-70 tie.

Oladipo scored a layup. Paul hit a pair of free throws.

IU had a chance to go for the last shot, but Oladipo was stripped of the ball. He appeared to save the day with a block with less than a second left.

He did not.