Illinois suffers blowout loss to Indiana during final home game of season


Daily Illini File Photo

Illinois head coach Brad Underwood watches his team from the sideline during the game against Indiana at the State Farm Center on Thursday. The Illini lost 92-74 in their final home game of the season.

By Jake Hasan, Assistant Sports Editor for On-Air

In Aaron Jordan’s final game at the State Farm Center, Illinois could not get a win for their homegrown senior guard Thursday night, falling to Indiana 92-74.

The game started fast, with both teams shooting at least 44 percent in the first seven minutes of action and the Illini shot 4-6 from three.

However, Indiana stayed close and eventually struck. The Hoosiers built a lead of 25-18, going on a 14-2 run halfway through the first and making the Illini work for every point. Not to mention, Illinois fell into a scoring drought that lasted two and a half minutes.

On his senior night, it was an Aaron Jordan 3-pointer that brought Illinois back to life for a short while. The Illini had a small spurt that helped them cut the lead to 27-24; however, they could not keep their foot on the gas, as the Hoosiers were able to take the punch and respond with a 10-2 run for a 37-26 lead.

With about four minutes left in the half, the Illini started to put up a fight, turning five straight possessions into baskets. But Indiana had its own string of nine in a row to keep Illinois at bay.

“We didn’t do anything we do,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “Our complete lack of execution. We went in with a mindset of how we were gonna guard. It’s a lack of execution and frustrating.”

The Illini went into the locker room down 52-42 and although they shot an impressive 54 percent from the field, the Hoosiers shot nearly 60 percent and had their way in the paint.

Unfortunately for Illinois, things stayed the same to start the second half as Indiana continued to score at will. The Hoosiers put up eight of their first 11 points in the paint to build a 65-48 lead with 15 minutes left.

“Give Indiana a lot of credit,” Underwood said. “Brought a fight tonight that was pretty evident. We had a lack of mental preparation. I’m blindsided by this. I don’t know if it was the extra emotion and the extracurriculars of senior night.”

The lead continued to balloon as the Illini suffered through another scoring drought and the State Farm Center grew more silent with every minute. Indiana kept Illinois out of reach thanks to its strongest performance in the paint this season, outscoring Illinois 52-26 underneath the basket.

“If you don’t play with emotion and you don’t play with energy, it doesn’t matter who you are you’re gonna lose,” Underwood said. “In this league, the team with the most energy wins. It’s a mental game about effort and energy. We came out flat.”

With about five minutes left, the Illini went on a short 8-2 run to instill a little hope in the remaining fans, but it was for naught as the Hoosiers quickly found their offense again and cruised the rest of the way, winning 92-74.

“Look in the mirror,” said freshman guard Ayo Dosunmu. “Take our own medicine. We have to be able to be accountable and be able to be criticized. We need to sit down and talk about what we need to work on. It’s about the urgency and how long you want the season to go.”

Next up, Illinois heads to Happy Valley, Pennsylvania, to face Penn State in its last game of the season.

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