CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Indiana’s nightmares at the Big Ten’s other Assembly Hall continued Thursday night.
Illinois reserve forward Tyler Griffey completed a double-digit comeback with a layup at the buzzer as the Illini defeated the No. 1 Hoosiers 74-72 in front of 16,618 fans.
The wide-open layup off a baseline inbounds pass with 0.9 second to play stood up to the officials’ review as Illinois fans stormed the court.
“We didn’t put them away when we had our opportunities,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “That’s really the bottom line.”
The loss was Indiana’s 10th in 11 trips to Illinois’ home court. The Hoosiers (20-3, 8-2) fell into a tie for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State.
It was IU’s first Big Ten road loss in five away games this season.
“They made some big plays down the stretch and made some good shots,” Hoosiers forward Cody Zeller said of Illinois. “It’s always frustrating losing in this league.”
It also signaled another likely change at the top of The Associated Press Top 25.
IU returned to the No. 1 spot Monday, becoming the fifth team to take over the top ranking in as many weeks.
“That had nothing to do with it, we just didn’t execute the way we needed to,” Hoosiers guard Jordan Hulls said of playing as the No. 1 team.
Zeller led the Hoosiers with 14 points and nine rebounds, and Will Sheehey added 13 off the bench. Christian Watford had 12 points, and Hulls had 11.
D.J. Richardson scored a game-high 23 for the Illini (16-8, 3-7), and Brandon Paul and Griffey added 21 and 14 points. Illinois took advantage of Indiana’s 14 turnovers, scoring 28 points off them.
“I know this – when we turn the ball over, we are not very good. The biggest difference in the game tonight was 28 points off turnovers,” Crean said. “The turnovers we are making, there is no defense for.”
Indiana, which led 41-29 after the first half, led by double digits for most of the second half, but Illinois started eating away at the lead with 3:33 to play when Paul converted a layup to cut the Hoosiers’ lead to 70-62.
Richardson then hit back-to-back three-pointers followed by a jumper to tie the game at 70 with 1:19 remaining.
After Victor Oladipo scored on a layup for a 72-70 lead, Paul tied the game again with two free throws.
Oladipo turned the ball over on Indiana’s next possession with 7 seconds to play, but he hustled back to block Richardson’s breakaway layup to set up the game-winning inbounds pass.
“We were fortunate,” said Illinois coach John Groce, whose team broke a three-game losing streak and ended IU’s five-game winning streak.
“Indiana is a great team, and I admire the way they play. … Had we not made that last shot and lost, we played good today. We played the right way today.”