No. 1 Illinois 60, Indiana 47
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)—Deron Williams couldn’t get one shot to fall. A lot of his passes, though, were right on target.
Williams had assists on Illinois’ first seven baskets and finished with 11 as the top-ranked Illini remained unbeaten with a 60-47 victory over Indiana on Sunday. It was the lowest-scoring game of the season for Illinois (23-0, 9-0 Big Ten), which held the Hoosiers to their second-lowest output of the season.
“We got a ‘W,’ That’s all I care about,” said Williams, who was 0-for-7 from the field. His only point was a free throw with 2:15 remaining. “I just didn’t shoot the ball well. I still got my teammates involved. That’s what I try to do.”
James Augustine scored 16 points and Luther Head had 13 for the Illini, who should remain the unanimous No. 1 in The Associated Press’ college basketball poll for a second straight week. Dee Brown added 12 points and Roger Powell Jr. had 10.
The Illini let a 20-3 run to start the game evaporate as the Hoosiers outscored them 17-6 over the final 8:15 of the first half to trail 26-20.
“It was probably the worst thing to happen,” Illini coach Bruce Weber said of the big early lead. Head got into foul trouble and some spotty play from reserves caused the Illini to struggle against Indiana’s zone defense.
“We weren’t sharp that’s for sure,” Weber said. “You’re not going to play perfect all the time. You wish you could but we didn’t.”
Illinois and No. 5 Boston College (20-0) are the only unbeaten teams remaining in Division I.
Illinois’ previous low was a 67-45 win over Cincinnati on Dec. 31.
Indiana (10-10, 5-4) scored a season-low 45 against Notre Dame on Dec. 8.
The Hoosiers played without leading scorer Bracey Wright, who missed the game with an injured left ankle. Coach Mike Davis started four freshmen against the Illini.
“What better growing up pill to give them than to play them on the road against the No. 1 team in the country in an environment like this,” Davis said.
Robert Vaden and D.J. White, both freshmen, each scored 12 points for the Hoosiers, who shot 38 percent from the field.
“We’re still learning a lot of things,” said White, whose 13.7 average is second on the team to Wright’s 18.5. “I feel we can be with the best in the years to come if you want to look ahead.”
The Illini jumped to a 20-3 lead on Williams’ playmaking. After two free throws from Augustine opened the scoring, Williams punched a loose ball to a streaking Augustine for a dunk.
“I just hit it ahead to James, rather than catch it and throw it,” Williams said. “I thought it would get there faster if I just hit it ahead.”
Then as the Hoosiers brought the ball up court, Brown poked it away from Marshall Strickland and found Williams, who passed to Head for another dunk that made it 6-0 just 3:02 into the game.
Indiana missed eight of its first nine shots before White’s three-point play triggered an 8-2 run that brought the Hoosiers within 22-11.
“We didn’t come out as sharp as we’d like to,” Strickland said. “But I think we battled back nicely. I think our defense just stepped up. We started to settle in.”
But Illinois went on a 13-2 run to begin the second half. Brown had two 3-pointers and Head added one from long range during the run that put the Illini up 39-22 with 15:33 to go. Indiana never closed within double figures again.