Gordon gets last laugh in Champaign
|Indiana 83 Illinois 79 2OT|
Illinois fans paid for two halves but got an extra 10 minutes of free basketball last night when the Hoosiers and Public Enemy #1 Eric Gordon came to town. The star freshman and once Illini commit received taunts and boos all night long courtesy of the fanatics known as the Orange Crush. Gordon struggled early scoring only 1 point in the first half but eventually found his scoring touch and ended the game as the team's leading scorer with 19 points. He banked in a long three with 23 seconds left in the 2nd half to tie the game, silence the crowd, and force overtime.
In terms of efficiency, both teams averaged 1.03 points per possession offensively. The only glaring difference in the stat line was free throws. Indiana needs to look no further than the free throw line for the main reason they were able to stay in this game on the road and eventually pull out a win. The Hoosiers shot 29 free throws, making 22 (76%), compared to Illinois which shot 8 for 17 (47%) from the line. This should come as no surprise to Illini fans as their team has had troubles at the free throw line for most of the season. On the year, Illinois ranks 271st in the nation in free throw rate (a measure of a team's ability to score from the line or FTM/FGA). Indiana ranks 1st in the Big Ten in free throw rate at 31.7, which is top 20 in the country.
Eric Gordon benefited most from fould line leading the Hoosiers with 19 points, 10 of which came as free throws (10-12 FT). From the floor, Gordon shot just 3 of 13 in the game and also committed 7 turnovers. D.J. White had yet another solid game on his way to 1st-team All Big Ten status with 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting while pulling down 9 rebounds. Jordan Crawford provided a spark off the bench, finishing the game with 18 points, shooting 7 of 13 from the floor and making 4 of 6 three-pointers.
Illinois was led in scoring by guard Demetri McCamey who scored 31 points, but also lost the ball off his knee towards the end of the double overtime period to nail the coffin in the Illini. McCamey shot 11 for 20 including 7 of 13 from three-point range. Shaun Pruitt scored 13 points and grabbed 7 rebounds, but shot his team in the foot going just 1 of 7 from the free throw line. After Gordon's game-tying three in regulation, Pruitt was sent to the line for a 1-on-1 with 4 seconds left and missed the front end. Pruitt then clanked two free throws with the game tied and 2 seconds left in the first overtime.
With the win, Indiana improved to 8-1 in Big Ten play while Illinois dropped to 2-9 in conference and 10-14 overall. Next up for the Hoosiers is a trip to Columbus to face Ohio State on Sunday. The Illini have this weekend off before their next game at Minnesota on Tuesday.