College Hoops Player of the Day for Thursday, February 7, 2013
Holding onto the #1 ranking in college basketball this season is becoming an exercise in futility, akin to grabbing a live salmon with oiled hands.
The Indiana Hooisers need no explanation or reminder after what happened to them at Assembly Hall in Champagne, as the Fighting Illini came from eight points down with under three minutes to play to defeat the Hoosiers, 74-72, the go-ahead bucket coming on an easy layup by Tyler Griffey off an inbounds pass with 0.9 seconds left.
Griffey, a senior, scored 14 for the Illini, but none were bigger than what was one of the easiest buckets of his career. With the score tied at 72, Illinois inbounded the ball from the sideline, about six feet from the baseline, setting up their players near the perimeter. Griffey slipped by Tyler Zeller and raced to the basket, where the pass from Brandon Paul hit him in stride without no Indiana player within ten feet of him.
Paul scored 21 points, while teammate D.J. Richardson had a game-high 24, eight of them coming on consecutive trips under three minutes when he hit two threes and a deuce to tie the game at 70. The Illini traded a pair of Paul free throws after a Victor Oladipo basket to knot the game at 72, setting up the decisive score.
Richardson was 8-for-15, hitting four of eight from three-point range with three steals. Paul was less accurate, making six of 14 from the floor with three treys, but he added two rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Illinois turned the ball over just nine times, as compared to 14 for the Hoosiers.
Prior to the win, Illinois had lost eight of their last 11 and were just 2-7 in conference play. The Indiana loss produced a three-way tie atop the Big Ten, with Indiana, Michigan and Michigan State each with identical 8-2 records.