Bloomington, Ind. – The No. 13/11 Indiana Hoosiers found the key to beating No. 7/5 Illinois – stop the perimeter attack. Indiana (11-3, 3-1 Big Ten) allowed just 18 Illinois (16-2, 2-2) points outside of the paint and held Dee Brown to a season-tying low of five points.
"I thought defensively we played as well as we did the whole season," said Indiana head coach Mike Davis. "I thought we really guarded the basketball once we got down. It was a total team effort."
Brown, the Big Ten's second leading scorer, was held to 1-of-9 shooting on the night including 1-of-6 on three-pointers. His only field goal came at the end of the first half when Illinois held for the last shot of the half. Brown cut off a screen to hit the three with under two seconds left on the clock.
It was one of just two Illinois three-pointers on the night as the Illini finished 2-of-14 from behind the arc. For the Illini, who came into the game averaging just over eight three-pointers a game, it was the fewest amount treys they'd hit in a game all season. Illinois' previous low for the season was five, which it had done twice.
"I missed a few shots, but I wouldn't think about it as a slump," said Brown. "I don't think of it like that. They just did a good job defensively to slow our perimeter attack.
"It's pretty tough right now to win on the road in this conference. People are going to come to play. They switched off on screens real well tonight. They came out and wanted to stop us on the perimeter. They're a good defensive ball club."
Brown hit two free throws to cap off his scoring and also added 11 of Illinois' 17 assists. For Brown the five-point performance tied his lowest output of the season. He also scored just five points in an 84-46 Illini win against Tennessee-Martin.
It marked the third time in the last six games Brown was held under six points. In those games Illinois is 1-2, losing at Iowa 48-63 when Brown scored six and Tuesday night's loss to the Hoosiers.
"They were going to allow other guys to get some open looks if it meant Dee never got into rhythm," said Illinois head coach Bruce Weber on Brown's 11 assists.
"That's what a smart point guard does. If they're taking away your shots now you get it to the next guy and there were probably two or three others where if somebody makes a layup or a shot, he could have had 13 or 14 assists. Some days the scoring isn't going to be there and he's just got allow it to come. He did a lot of little things tonight to help us."
Indiana also shutdown Brown's backcourt partner Rich McBride.
McBride, who came into the game averaging 8.8 points and 2.4 assists a game, scored just five points and had one assist. McBride has not scored over eight points in his last four outings since scoring 21 points against Tennessee-Martin.
"Our perimeter defense on Brown was great," said sophomore forward Robert Vaden. "He made one field goal tonight and McBride made two. We played some good defense and that is why we won tonight."
The task of shutting down Brown and the rest of the Illinois perimeter offense was placed on the shoulders of a trio of Hoosiers: senior Lewis Monroe, junior Roderick Wilmont and sophomore A.J. Ratliff.
Monroe made his first start since sitting out at Michigan State and was isolated on Brown for most of the game while playing 30 minutes.
"I think Lewis did a great job on Dee Brown tonight," said Wilmont. "As a team we played well on defense because we were taking on switches and that is what we need to keep doing."
Ratliff also added pressure on Brown and played one of his best games defensively. While he only had one steal, he was able to use his long body to stay in front of the Illini guards and prevent any dribble penetration.
"I thought defensively Ratliff played great," said Davis. "He looked like a great defensive player. He was on the ball, moving his feet. He was really good."
"You can't take credit for defense on Dee Brown. He's one of the best players in our league. I just thought he missed some shots. He had 11 assists and got the ball to his teammates. He missed some open shots early but to walk out of there with him going 1-for-9 definitely helped us.
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