Tracy Abrams picked a great day to have a big game for Illinois.
The junior point guard had a game-high 25 points as the No. 9 seed Fighting Illini knocked off No. 8 seed Indiana, 64-54, in Thursday’s opening contest of the Big Ten Tournament.
The 25 points for Abrams, on 8-for-16 shooting, is a season-high for the junior from Chicago and its his first 20-point performance since knocking in 22 points in a December 21st win over Missouri in the Braggin’ Rights game.
Junior guard Rayvonte Rice also added 13 points for the Illini while freshman guard Kendrick Nunn added 10. The Illinois defense also did a great job of forcing Indiana into 16 turnovers as the Fighting Illini defense continues to play very well down the stretch.
John Groce’s ballclub won four of its final five games in the regular season and they’re a dangerous team in the Big Ten Tournament because of their ability to defend.
Indiana (17-15) has now lost three straight games and struggled to find consistent offense as sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell finished with a team-high 14 points on 3-for-12 shooting. Senior forward Will Sheehey (13 points) and freshman wing Troy Williams (11 points) also finished in double-figures for Indiana, but freshman forward Noah Vonleh struggled to find his rhythm on offense, going 3-for-9 from the field for nine points.
Illinois advances to face No. 1 seed Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals on Friday at 12:00 p.m.