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Hoosiers avenge loss to Illini, secure spot in semifinals

Indiana's Cody Zeller (40) dunks during second half an NCAA college basketball game Big Ten tournament against Illinois Friday March

Indiana's Cody Zeller (40) dunks during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game at the Big Ten tournament against Illinois Friday, March 15, 2013, in Chicago. Indiana won 80-64. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

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Updated: April 17, 2013 6:09AM



CHICAGO — Indiana’s players and coaches spent a lot of time watching the final 7½ minutes of their Feb. 7 loss at Illinois.

A lot of time.

End result? An 80-64 victory for the Hoosiers on Friday in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Illinois had won five of six meetings between the schools in the tournament, but this was the first such matchup since 2007.

And with memories of Illinois’ 74-72 upset in Champaign earlier this season, the Hoosiers (27-5) weren’t about to be the first No. 1 seed to lose its first game in the conference tournament since Wisconsin in 2003.

“We played a much better time and score situation this game,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “These guys have seen the last 7½ minutes of that game numerous times. It’s not the buzzer-beater, that obviously was the result, but it was the last 7½ minutes of that game at Illinois that really hurt us.

“So we went back through and as we did after that game, we watched the beginning of that game (when eight of Illinois’ first 11 points were off IU turnovers) and we watched the end of the game, but we watched the 30, 35 things, clips where we really did do a great job. Because you don’t get in games against these high-level opponents without doing a lot of really good things.”

On Friday, the good things IU was doing were on defense. The Illini (22-12), who struggled to find their shooting touch in Thursday’s win over Minnesota, had similar struggles on Friday. Illinois missed eight of its first nine shots from the field.

“They get into you,” said Brandon Paul, who scored 16 for Illinois but was just 2-of-13 from the field; he was 11-of-12 from the line. “We missed some shots, but at the same time I was trying to get to the free-throw line.

“But some shots just got to fall. They fell yesterday, they didn’t fall tonight. That’s just something that happens.”

Victor Oladipo, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, got most of the credit for defending Paul, but gave his teammates plenty of credit as well.

“Cody (Zeller) did a great job of blitzing. Will (Sheehey) guarded him and Remy (Abell) as well,” Oladipo said. “He’s a great player and we tried to slow him down. He takes a lot of shots in order for them to win.

“So when you go against someone like that, you’ve got to force them to take tough shots, and I think we did a great job of doing that.”

Zeller led the Hoosiers with 24 points, hitting 9-of-11 shots, which tied him for third-best shooting percentage all-time in a Big Ten Tournament game. Oladipo had 12 points and 11 rebounds for his second double-double, Christian Watford scored 15, Yogi Ferrell added 12 points and Sheehey scored 11 off the bench.

Tracy Abrams also 16 points for Illinois, while Joseph Bertrand added 10 points.

The Illini now wait to make sure they’ll be an at-large selection for the NCAA Tournament, while the Hoosiers face Wisconsin on Saturday. The Badgers (22-10) defeated Michigan 68-59 on Friday, rallying from a 30-27 halftime deficit to advance to the semifinals.

Wisconsin has won 11 straight against the Hoosiers.



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