BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Illinois coach Brad Underwood challenged his defense at halftime.
The 12th-ranked Fighting Illini responded like champions.
Trent Frazier scored Illinois’ final 10 points in regulation and put the Illini ahead with a free throw in overtime, and the defense took care of the rest in a 75-71 victory over Indiana on Tuesday night.
“It was the first time in a while I’ve been really, really upset with my basketball team at halftime,” Underwood said. “Giving up 41 points in the first half is not real conducive to winning on the road. We looked lost. It was just real lethargic and they whipped us (inside). But we responded.”
Frazier finished with 19 points and Kofi Cockburn added 16 points and 10 rebounds. But Illinois wouldn’t have won its third straight – or for the first time since 2010 on the Hoosiers’ home court – without a suffocating defense.
Illinois gave up only two baskets over the final 11 1/2 minutes and only one basket and three points in overtime, which started with the Illini taking charges on Indiana’s first two possessions.
“I think we won the ballgame because of our offense but on defense, it was huge, huge in overtime,” guard Andre Curbelo said. “That gave us the extra energy, the extra pump, those two defensive stops.”
Trayce Jackson-Davis had 19 points and 14 rebounds for the Hoosiers (9-8, 4-6), who have dropped two straight. Race Thompson added 18 points and eight rebounds as he helped stake Indiana to a 64-58 lead with five minutes to go.
It didn’t last. Frazier tied the score with back-to-back 3-pointers and gave Illinois a 68-66 lead by making four free throws. Indiana tied it on Armaan Franklin’s layup with 30.5 seconds left in regulation.
One free throw from Frazier in overtime was all Illinois’ defense needed.
“We had some reluctant shooters at times, we had a couple of charges,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “Free throws continue to be a bugaboo, 23 of 34 for our team. We’ve got to do better than that.”
Illinois: There’s no doubt this is a talented team. But playing only four times in a 20-day span with no road trips in the mix – two games were postponed because of opponents’ COVID-19 issues – has made finding consistency a real challenge. Just playing games more consistently in February and March could help the Illini regain their early-season form.
Indiana: The Hoosiers need wins, especially big wins, to impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee over the second half of the season, and they nearly got one. They can’t afford to let any more chances slip away.
Illinois: Frazier drew a technical foul less than three minutes into the game when he celebrated making a 3 by appearing to say something to the Hoosiers bench. … Curbelo finished with 12 points. … Ayo Dosunmu had 10 points before fouling out near the end of regulation. … The Illini forced 11 turnovers in the final 25 minutes and 15 in the game.
Indiana: Thompson also had two assists, two blocks and three steals in his best game of the season. … Jackson-Davis made his first six free throws but finished 7 of 10. … Aljami Durham had 13 points and Franklin finished with 11. … The Hoosiers were 4 of 8 on 3s.
Indiana sophomore guard Jerome Hunter did not suit up. Miller said that was his decision.
“He’s a good kid, he’s a good player. We could have used him tonight,” Miller said, explaining Hunter still can play his way back into the rotation. “When when he’s focused and concentrating he can help us, and right now I don’t think he can help us.”
Illinois: Hosts No. 19 Wisconsin on Saturday.
Indiana: Hopes to pull off a season sweep of No. 8 Iowa on Sunday in Bloomington.