Griffey’s last-second layup gives Illinois 74-72 win over No. 1 Indiana

WHAT HAPPENED: No. 1 Indiana blew a 10-point lead in the last 4:21 and Illinois senior forward Tyler Griffey scored a layup off an inbound play with 0.9 seconds to go to give the Fighting Illini a 74-72 win over the Hoosiers and inciting a court-storming on the Champaign, Ill., version of Assembly Hall.

Illinois outscored Indiana 15-3 in the last 4:21. The Hoosiers were still up 70-68 with three minutes to go, but Illinois senior guard D.J. Richardson hit back-to-back 3-pointers and then a step-back, fadeaway jumper to tie the game 70-70 with 1:19 to go. IU junior guard Victor Oladipo gave the Hoosiers the lead back with a driving layup with 50 seconds to go, but Illinois senior guard Brandon Paul tied it again with two free throws with 37.5 seconds left. IU tried to hold for the last shot and Oladipo started a drive for the win, but lost the ball on the way. He got back in transition and swatted an attempted layup from Richardson far out of bounds.

However, on the inbound play, the Fighting Illini set a screen beyond the 3-point line at the right elbow, senior forward Christian Watford switched onto the screener, but no one followed Griffey as he made a curl cut right at the basket. Paul found him right in front of he hoop for an easy layup just before the buzzer.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Griffey’s game-winning layup was just part of an extremely strong night for the senior. He knocked down a pair of critical 3-pointers and finished with 14 points and eight rebounds.

Paul and Richardson, though, got the Illini back in the game. Richardson finished with 23 points, knocking down eight of 15 shots and four of eight 3-pointers, that included his personal 8-0 run to tie the game with 1:19 to go. Richardson also had three steals, and was a big part of the reason for Indiana’s 14 turnovers.

Paul also had a strong outing, scoring 21 points, making six of 14 field goals and three of seven 3-pointers. He also had three assists and two steals.

IU sophomore center Cody Zeller finished with 14 points, nine rebounds and two assists. He was 4-for-6 from the field. Junior swingman Will Sheehey scored 13 points, senior forward Christian Watford had 12 points and eight rebounds, but also had six turnovers. Senior guard Jordan Hulls had 11 points. Oladipo had nine points and five assists, though he shot just 3-for-7, and freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell hit a pair of 3-pointers, making 3’s for the first time since Dec. 1.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Indiana shot a better percentage from the field than Illinois, a better percentage from the 3-point arc, and a better percentage at the free throw line. The Hoosiers also won the rebounding battle. But they lost the game. The biggest reason was turnovers.

Indiana gave the ball away 14 times on Thursday, and Illinois capitalized an almost all of the opportunities that allowed. Illinois scored 28 points off turnovers, a season-high for an Indiana opponent, to the Hoosiers’ 16.

The Illini might have shot a lower percentage than the Hoosiers across the board, but because of those turnovers, Illinois had more attempts and as many makes. And Griffey’s layup gave them one more field goal than the Hoosiers. They were 26-for-58 from the field, 9-for-24 from beyond the 3-point arc and 13-for-15 for the line while Indiana was 25-for-50 from the field, 9-for-17 from beyond the arc and 13-for-14 at the line.

The 3-pointers got the Illini back in the game. Illinois stroked five in the second half including three in the last seven minutes that were critical to the comeback. IU coach Tom Crean said the problem was over-helping on drives and post-ups and leaving shooters in the corners where Indiana knew full well the Illini were dangerous. That allowed Illinois to get back in the game after it had been left for dead.

Also, Will Sheehey’s technical with 1:27 left in the first half, which led to four points for Illinois, didn’t help.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: Obviously, it means that the Hoosiers become the fifth No. 1 team to fall in the last five weeks. How far they go down is tough to tell, considering that Florida and Kansas already lost this week.

The bigger implications of the loss are its effect on Indiana’s hopes for a Big Ten title. The Hoosiers came into the game alone atop the conference at 8-1. At 8-2, they are in a tie with Michigan and Michigan State atop the league and a game up on Ohio State and Wisconsin at 7-3. Indiana’s schedule is backloaded, and the Hoosiers still have to play at Ohio State, at Michigan State, at Minnesota and at Michigan. Losing to Illinois gives the Hoosiers a lot less margin for error in those games. It also means Indiana has to rebound quickly before going to Ohio State on Sunday.


Tom Crean

“We didn’t put them away. We had our opportunities. That’s really what the bottom line was. We broke some coverages. We let some old habits kick in where we over-helped rather than staying committed to the corners. That’s where they hit us. When you’re going against great talent, which this league is full of, you’ve gotta stay committed to it for 40 minutes. You’ve gotta keep your chest in front of the ball. You’ve gotta keep your communication high. You’ve gotta have that commitment to what makes you good, which for us is early help, early recovery, and understanding what their strengths are, which is their 3-point shooting.”

“The end of the game was a broken play for them. We were not gonna give them a chance to set up and win the game on a lob. They were out of timeouts, we had two. I wouldn’t change that for a second, looking back and calling a timeout there. We just didn’t communicate, didn’t communicate a switch there at the end. At the end of the game offensively, we didn’t stay with what we needed to have. We wanted to make it a one-possession game. We did not want to call a timeout, they’re very good on side out of bounds, defending that. We wanted to keep the game in movement, and if we didn’t get what we wanted, then we wanted something coming down the middle of the floor We went at the right time, but we didn’t keep the game in movement enough. That didn’t do it. They made some 3’s and they got momentum because we didn’t stay where we needed to defensively.”

“When we turn the ball over, we’re not very good. The biggest difference in this game tonight is 28 points off turnovers to our 16. … The turnovers we’re making, there’s no defense for that. Our guys were ready, they were prepared, they respect Illinois. There’s no doubt about that. There is no overlooking any of that. We just turned the ball over, we didn’t stay committed to what we wanted to do at the end of the game.”

Jordan Hulls

“We turned the ball over too much, didn’t hit open shots didn’t stick to the game plan.”

Cody Zeller

“It’s always frustrating losing in this league. It’s a tough way to lose anyway.”

“We’re not rotating far enough. It’s too much overhelp when it’s not needed. That’s a big reason they had open 3’s.”

Christian Watford

“It was me and Yogi. There was a mix-up. It was a busted play and they got a layup.”

“It’s a tough one. it’s definitely a tough pill to swallow. You just gotta learn from it. Losses like this, you can’t do nothing about it now. You just gotta go forward and learn from it, look at the film and see what we didn’t do right. But we know we let one get away from us.”

On Turnovers

“A lot of them were on us. Just careless with the basketball, not being locked in here and there. We’ll get it corrected.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: John Groce, Tyler Griffey, Brandon Paul

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls

AUDIO: Cody Zeller

AUDIO: Christian Watford

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  • AWinAZ says:

    What kind of “swaheelie” is this!?!?!?

    “We wanted to keep the game in movement, and if we didn’t get what we wanted, then we wanted something coming down the middle of the floor We went at the right time, but we didn’t keep the game in movement enough. That didn’t do it.”

    No wonder there is a miscommunication on the last play….

  • hiensohn says:

    Was Crean even watching those last sequences?Why on earth was watford still in the game?He blew so many plays in the last 8 minutes,what was wrong with him,and were was our coach?Crean admitted he should have played hollowell more in some of the games last week.Why not the end of this game?watford looked out of sorts and out of gas,he blew 5 possessions in a row by my count.Gad,it looked like we had no coach at all.It is a disgrace to lose this game,unlike Wisconsin and Butler,Illinois didn’t even play well.

  • briansloanthemadscreener says:

    I seems to remember a coach years ago preaching “victory favors the team that makes the fewest mistakes”. Was that sign removed from the locker room when he left? Took my 16 yr old son to the other Assembly Hall, boy what a disappointment. This team is not particularly tough nor does it seem to have any leadership from Watford nor Hulls. I’m not anxiously awaiting March.

  • HoosiersFan61 says:

    I kinda had a feeling IU would play like that last night I mean we are now 1-10 inside Assembly Hall in Illinois. I can’t stand how a bunch of people are blaming Tom Crean, when clearly the players messed up on that inbound pass. This is a tough league to play in. The Illni had everything to play for last night, because it was there NCAA tournament game. I mean all week everyone was hating on Illinois and saying how they had no chance. I just hope IU uses this loss to get motivated for Sunday. If we go to OSU and beat them I better not hear any complaints from IU fans. I’m so tired of half of you complaining after every loss. We are still a great team, its just that we had an off night. Who every is saying we lost the Big Ten title is crazy. There is a ton of games left. I hope you fans remember that we used to be 6-25, so stop complaining after all of IU losses. This is a very touch conference. We are 4-1 on the road thats is very good. Lets Go HOOSIERS!!!!!

  • Terryz says:

    Maybe the team should remember we used to be 6-25. Where’s the fire? Victor is a 6 man, not a point. Where’s pride? Where’s defense?

  • Hoosier Clarion says:

    There has to be a herd of Holstein cattle close to Bloomington. CW needs to spend every early morn and every late afternoon at that farm milking “by hand” about 3 dozen head. That will strengthen his hands so much he cannot be stripped of the ball when going up underneath to score. I cannot remember any 1 player so easily and so repeatedly stripped of the ball for his entire career as has Watford. How much more valuable he would be if he could only hang onto the ball.

  • Mike P. says:

    Victor is a 6th man? Really? What effing rock have you been under? Victor is repeatedly talked about as a National POY candidate.

    Please tell me that was a typo and not just stupidity.


    To bad they didn’t do that with CW a couple years ago, at this point it is too late to do the Hoosiers any good.

  • Chet says:


    Let’s go with Swahili, though, since it was first written in Arabic script, I can’t claim it’s the only spelling.

    Interesting, your choice of a language. It’s widely used (three times more people speak it than speak Greek) yet you use it like an insult.

  • Laffy says:

    No, Watford played like an NBA Hall of Famer.

    It was ALL the refs’ fault.

    Just ask the “experts” on here.


    All our turnovers?

    It was the “refs screwing us.”

  • AWinAZ says:

    Let’s examine the statistics of turnovers.

    If you assume both teams shoot 50% (or 40% from 3), for every TO you commit, you surrender 1 point for your opponent and -1 point that you would’ve had. That is a 2 point differential, on average, and it usually works out pretty close to that.

    Last night, we had 14 TOs, officially, not counting the lost possessions on balls of the hands out of bounds, etc…. Illinois had 10, really a paltry total for a team at the bottom of the Big 10. It goes to show you how much real defense we played.

    Regardless, 14 TOs – 10 TOs = 4 TO differential x 2 pts. per = 8 pts. lost. This would be “typical”.

    Last night Illinois scored 28 pts. off of our turnovers. Plus we gave up 4 more possessions, or 4 more points.

    Cumulative, last night, TOs accounted for a roughly 32 pt. difference instead of just 8! Flat out Astounding and purely the reason we lost the contest.

    This has been a problem all season. Granted, we usually push the ball enough to overcome those possessions lost and we normally apply enough pressure to put the TO battle in our favor. Last night it didn’t happen….and then some!

    And a stunning, yes stunning, lack of taking the ball to the rim and drawing fouls in the last 5 min. We had 2 pts in the last 3 min, and those were on Oladipo’s layup with 55 sec. to go. Again, total lack of execution.

  • hiensohn says:

    Yes there is complaining about a loss.Would you say it is deserved?Last week I wrote,we played 3 fantastic games in a row and THAT is what championship teams do.We should not have lost this game and I was placing the blame where I felt it belonged.Our guys play hard and often need a break.If you want them to play hard all the time,you have to use your bench.

  • Laffy says:

    Excellent analysis, AZ.

  • Larry says:

    I have been one to always praise Crean on his coaching decisions but 2 incidents come to mind last night. 1) how is it there were absolutely no IU defenders near the basket? Did they have that much confidence that a .9 sec hail mary was gonna go down hence the man to man near the hash mark? What was Cody doing at the hash mark???

    And I don’t as a former youth baseball coach tolerate arrogant behavior, ie Sheehey flexing his biceps at Purdue which drew Creans attention and “talk”. Last night his dunk and trashtalk to a player afterwards got him a technical, hence 2 dumb ass (as I call them) pts.

  • Laffy says:

    Here’s at least the second game this season where Cody should have dominated…….and he vanished instead.

    So don’t tell me how “great” he is and/or what a “great” coach Crean is.

    If Cody isn’t going to take over in the games he should kick butt, sit his butt and let Hanner get some experience.

    Every coach in the world says the bench is the best motivator.

    Well……use it.

    And sit Watford and let Jeremy play more too.

  • Tom says:

    Sheehey’s “bad-guy wrestling” attitude is wearing thin with me. He doesn’t even start, yet he acts like he’s the man.

    The kid needs to learn to make a play and move on. Quit celebrating like you’ve never done it before. I wouldn’t mind seeing a Big Ten frontcourt player just lay him out once after one of those “celebrations.”

    I don’t want to hear that he needs it to motivate himself. Grow up, Sheehey.

  • Podunker says:

    I hope IU does not recover the #1 ranking for the remainder of the season. I’d like them to be a #1 seed in the tourney, but not be ranked #1 again. They can’t handle it. They don’t have the mentality to be the bully, to dominate weaker teams, to finish a team when they’re up by 11 points in the second half. Their DNA is to be the hunters. They can’t handle the pressure of being the hunted. Too many of this team’s players identify as the underdogs and they’re comfortable with that.

    The last five minutes of yesterday’s game was a joke. They need to be toughened up. And for the love of God, when the opposing team’s center fouls out of the game, give the ball to Zeller. How simple can that directive be? Twice they’ve failed to do that, and lost the game both times. Ridiculous.

  • coachv says:

    sheehey did not trash talk. all he did was make a surprised face while looking at the illini player. nor did he get in the player’s face as the ref indicated to crean. when that became a tech eludes me.

  • Podunker says:

    Tom, did you really just say you “wouldn’t mind” an opposing player injuring Will Sheehey? When you wrote “lay him out,” what did you mean by that? Does that mean knock him unconscious? Because, according to my understanding, when you “lay someone out,” that means knocking them out, knocking them unconscious. Which usually means giving someone a concussion. That’s pretty sick, Tom. You need to be careful with those types of comments.

    I don’t like some of Sheehey’s antics either, but I would never want to see an opposing player “lay out” an IU player, especially for such silly and harmless gestures. You need to think about what you just wrote Tom, because frankly, what you suggested is far worse than any gesture Sheehey has made on a basketball court. If you stand by that comment in #15, then maybe its time you stop identifying yourself as a Hoosier Fan.

  • Laffy says:

    I agree 100% with post # 16.

    As far as Will, that’s exactly why I hated his hot dog crap. You get a reputation. So even when you didn’t “cross the line”, refs are going to look for anything they can to hit you with so things do not get out of control.

    Especially at a place where the fans HATE the other team.

    Their fans could see that as taunting and start hurling insults at Will, which he admits he gets them to do on purpose, and then he starts pulling his crap with them back, they yell more and the next thing you know, he’s flipping off their fans and a fight breaks out.

    Will brought it all on himself.

    As far as “laying Will out”, I took it as putting him on his butt hard………not “giving him a concussion.”

    And what he does isn’t “harmless.” Heck, when I say Cody played like a girl, which is harmless, this place goes CRAZY.

    There’s a reason ALL sports ban taunting the other side and their fans. It’s not “harmless” at all.

  • Podunker says:

    If its not harmless, it must be harmful. How is what Sheehey does harmful? Is he injuring someone? Is he traumatizing other players? Is it mental torture? I don’t like what he does, but I don’t think it hurts anyone or anything. If anything, it pumps up the opposing players and rouses the crowd, so it may be detrimental to IU’s goal of winning the game. Is that what you mean when you say “it’s not harmless?” If so, that’s a stretch.

  • Tom says:

    Lay him out = blindside screen him to the ground.

    Sorry for the strong words, but his antics are getting real old with me.

  • Larry says:

    coachv, were you courtside? It’s clear Sheehey said something, I had no idea what that was from watching it on tv, so unless you were courtside & could here the verbal exchange, you’re speculating.

  • Larry says:

    Laffy, I was always taught & taught my son & he was taught by his varsity baseball coach that trashtalkin & showboatin were “OUT”. You do you speaking with your game, expend that energy used on playing & focusing on the game at hand, period!!!!

  • Laffy says:

    Podunker, then why does the NFL and NBA ban taunting?

    They’re “just having fun too”, right?

    Can’t even wag a finger in someone’s face.

    It sure is funny how you guys brush that off as “nothing” yet GO OFF THE DEEP END if I say Cody played like a girl….yet that is “harmless” too.

  • Laffy says:

    Exactly, Larry.

    Maybe if Will wasn’t running his mouth so much, he would have got a rebound.

    Will thinks he’s “tough” because he can flap his gums, prance around like a tween girl at a Beiber concert after a 3, and flex his muscles at the crowd.

    No, shut up and go get a rebound in a crowd.

    Or stop a guy from getting an uncontested lay-up to win the game after you choked away your lead.

    THAT is “tough.”

    He’s probably my least favorite player ever.

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