Indiana braces for visit from No. 12 Illinois
No. 12 Illinois is looking to make a late push up the Big Ten standings and build some consistency during the final weeks of the regular season.
The Fighting Illini (11-5, 7-3 Big Ten) will try to follow up their dramatic win over No. 7 Iowa when they take on Indiana (9-7, 4-5) on Tuesday night in Bloomington, Ind.
Friday's 80-75 victory over the Hawkeyes was just the second for Illinois against a ranked team and the first since knocking off then-No. 10 Duke in early December.
"We found a way to win it, and we did it our way. We did it with great defense," Illini coach Brad Underwood said. "I hope that continues to propel us forward. We'll see how it works out."
Illinois has been fueled all season by the inside-out tandem of center Kofi Cockburn (16.9 points, 10.3 rebounds per game) and guard Ayo Dosunmu (21.9 points, 41.8 percent from 3-point range).
In the win over Iowa, Trent Frazier also came up with some big shots and big plays down the stretch, scoring 24 points. Illinois responded well coming off a 10-day layoff due to a Jan. 23 game at Michigan State being postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Spartans.
"I'm very proud of how our team came out and responded," Dosunmu said. "Ten days off, you can come out sluggish, but we were locked in. We played hard -- extremely hard -- and everyone who subbed in had a lot of energy. The bench had a lot of energy. ... I'm just very proud of our team how we came out and responded after being off for 10 days."
Indiana has been on a similar break after its scheduled game Saturday at No. 4 Michigan was postponed due to COVID-19 issues with the Wolverines. The Hoosiers last played Jan. 24, losing 74-70 at home to Rutgers to drop to 4-3 on its home floor this season.
The Hoosiers haven't won more than two games in a row all season, but also haven't lost more than two in a row.
"We've just got to put it all together and find a way to be more consistent," Indiana coach Archie Miller said.
In the previous meeting between the two schools on Dec. 26, Illinois beat Indiana 69-60 behind 30 points from Dosunmu and 15 points and 15 rebounds from Cockburn.
Indiana could be down two key players on Tuesday. Freshman swingman Trey Galloway has missed Indiana's last two games with back problems, while guard Armaan Franklin, Indiana's second-leading scorer at 12.8 points per game, re-aggravated an ankle injury against Rutgers.
If both Franklin and Galloway are out, the Hoosiers will again lean heavily on Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is leading Indiana in scoring (20.1), rebounding (8.7) and blocked shots (29).
"We just have to stay in the thick of things," Miller said. "We have enough opportunities in front of us, literally half a season left, that we can catch it, I really believe we can catch it. If we can start to find a way to be better at home, it would really help."
--Field Level Media
Updated February 1, 2021