Season-long habits reappeared for the Illinois basketball team against Indiana on Thursday.
The Illini started the game with a large lead and maintained the advantage for much of the first half but failed to keep up with the Hoosiers in the second half. Illinois’ leading scorers failed to contribute and a good performance from freshman Jalen Coleman-Lands was wasted in a 74-47 loss.
Illinois head coach John Groce has seen this play out for his team more than once. With three games left in the regular season and the Big Ten tournament, the head coach has few excuses for his team.
“Obviously the tale of two halves,” Groce said. “Obviously better than we played in game one. I thought we played really connected in the first half, but then in the second half, Yogi Ferrell took over the game … he’s into the game.”
Like many games this season, Illinois started the game off hot from the field. The Illini started the game with a 12-4 run led by Coleman-Lands’ eight points and four from Maverick Morgan. And like in many games this season, Illinois gave up its early lead. Indiana responded with a 14-4 run, a span during which Illinois failed to score in five minutes.
Despite the drought, Illinois managed to catch up to Indiana. Both teams finished the half with sloppy play — the teams combined for 15 turnovers during the first — but the Illini entered the half with a 28-27 lead.
But Indiana quickly took the lead to start the second half and never gave it up. The Hoosiers outscored Illinois 47-19 in the second half and finished the game shooting 27-of-55 from the field and 13-of-32 from beyond the arc.
Yogi Ferrell led the way for the Hoosiers with 27 points and added five rebounds and five assists.
Coleman-Lands led the way for Illinois in the first half with 11 points and finished the game with a team-high 21 points. Coleman-Lands shot 7-of-13 from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range. The freshman guard continued to build upon a strong freshman season. The Indiana-native has experienced typical highs and lows for a first-year player, but he remains confident with his play.
“It’s a progression,” Coleman-Lands said. “Now I’m just playing things out.”
Coleman-Lands’ performance was needed while the Hoosiers kept junior guard Malcolm Hill scoreless in the first half. Hill attempted his first shot with just over a minute left in the half. He missed all three of his shot attempts — two field goals and an attempt from beyond the arc.
Nunn contributed a little, finishing with eight points. The junior guard finished shooting 4-of-9 from the field and missed all three 3-point attempts. Indiana made sure to stop Illinois’ top-two scorers and the Illini had no response in the second half. Hill finished the game with 5 points and scored his first points with over seven minutes left in the game.
The Illini will try to turn things around Sunday in the last home game of the season. Although Illinois is not in competition to make the NCAA tournament or the NIT, he wants the team leaders to show up during this time of the year.
“It’s February. Your upperclassmen need to unify their team,” Groce said. “We need to fix a few things before we play our senior day game in a few days.”