Despite early struggles, Indiana managed to recover in a critical road win in the race for the Big Ten regular season title.
The No. 18 Hoosiers defeated Illinois 74-47 Thursday at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. With the win, Indiana solidified its position at the top of the Big Ten standings with a 1.5 game lead over Iowa and Maryland.
Senior guard Yogi Ferrell broke the Indiana record for career starts with his 131st Thursday night. Ferrell finished with a game-high 27 points, 19 of which came in the second half.
Illinois (12-16, 4-11 Big Ten) as a team scored 19 points in that same half and couldn't recover from the offensive onslaught by Indiana (23-6, 13-3). Despite trailing by one at halftime, Indiana opened the second half with a 29-9 run over the first 12:23.
Ferrell scored 11 of his efficient 19 points in 19 minutes during that 12-minute stretch. He also added five rebounds, five assists and one steal.
Indiana got off to a slugglish start with three turnovers through its first eight possessions. The mistakes, compouned with the hot start by Illinois freshman guard Jalen Coleman-Lands, put the Hoosiers in an early 14-4 hole.
A quick 11-0 run gave Indiana its first lead as Illinois turned it over or missed a shot on its next nine possessions.
The Hoosiers' second-half output alone matched the Illini's entire output for the game. Indiana shot 10 of 17 from 3-point range in the second half.
Critical to building the lead was Indiana's ability to keep Illinois leading scorer Malcolm Hill at bay. The junior guard, who entered Thursday's game averaging 18.6 points per game, finished with a single-game season low five while being defended by Indiana freshman forward OG Anunoby.
Fifth-year guard Nick Zeisloft started in the place of sophomore guard Robert Johnson, who sat out Thursday's game after injuring his ankle during Indiana's win over Purdue last Saturday. Zeisloft finished with 14 points on 4 of 7 shooting from 3-point range.
Indiana's two remaining regular season games are at Iowa on March 1 and home vs. Maryland on March 6. A win over either program would clinch at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title for the Hoosiers.