Illini score win over Indiana with last-second shot

The Illini tied up their all-time series against the Hoosiers on Saturday at the Assembly Hall at 82 games apiece, and they owe it all to junior guard Demetri McCamey.

With the game tied at 70 with 4.4 seconds remaining, McCamey inbounded the ball to Bill Cole. The junior forward then handed it back to McCamey, who drove in and sank a floater to electrify the crowd, as Illinois defeated Indiana at the buzzer, 72-70.

“I just threw it up and just tear-dropped the shot I practice every day,” McCamey said. “I knew it was good once it left my hands.”

It wasn’t exactly what Illinois head coach Bruce Weber had in mind, as he told McCamey to either shoot a jumper or kick it out to one of the big men on the side.

“I want him to shoot pull-up jumpers,” Weber said. “I want him to jump stop. I want him to be old school … but obviously in that case, it was either float or too late.”

McCamey finished the game with 19 points and eight assists. He became the 42nd Illini to reach the 1,000-point mark, as he took shots from every which way under the basket.

“When you play backyard basketball, you take crazy shots,” he said. “You just get that feel around the basket, and you just throw it up.”

Indiana head coach Tom Crean was frustrated following the game, saying the only reason Illinois came out ahead was because it had the last possession Meanwhile, junior center Mike Tisdale’s efforts didn’t show up on the stat sheet until later in the game. Weber said the team put a “1” on the whiteboard in the locker room at halftime, the number of shots Tisdale had in the first half. Tisdale came through for the Illini in the final minutes of the back-and-forth contest, though, as he scored four of the team’s final six points, including two clutch free throws.

Hoosiers guard Verdell Jones III was 5-of-20 from the field and led all scorers with 22 points, but the Champaign Central product was unable to gut out a win in a return trip to his hometown.

Indiana shot just 35 percent from the field Saturday.

“Nobody played a perfect game by any stretch,” Crean said. “But it was an incredibly hard-fought game, and they came away after making a very tough shot.”

Tyler Griffey provided a spark for the Illini in the first half, getting his second consecutive start in place of Mike Davis. The freshman forward, who’s averaging 6.9 minutes per game on the season, played 13 minutes in the first half alone Saturday, contributing nine points and four rebounds.

Freshman guard Jordan Hulls led the Hoosier fight in the first 20 minutes with 11 points. The Bloomington, Ind., native came off the bench to go 3-for-5 from behind the arc.

Although the Illini led the majority of the first half, the Hoosiers remained within firing range, and they skipped to the locker room at halftime thanks to Devan Dumes. The senior guard hit a buzzer-beater from halfcourt to tie the game up at 36 – the first time since the opening minute that the teams were even. Weber didn’t yell at his team at halftime, though, because he said it would make the situation even more frustrating.

“Time and time again we got causal,” McCamey said. “You can’t do that in college basketball … We’ve go to keep going to get (the lead) up to 15 or 20.”

All of the Illini wore pink sneakers and uniforms with pink trim during Saturday’s game in honor of the annual Coaches vs. Cancer weekend.

What will the players do with their new kicks now?

“Probably give them to my mom,” Cole said. “Or I should just break them out against Michigan State randomly.”