Upon Further Review: Illinois

A lot of things went right for Indiana Saturday in Champaign, but Demetri McCamey's last-second game-winner ended the Hoosiers' chances of springing the upset. Hoosier Nation looks back at IU's loss and talks about what we found to be most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Verdell Jones. The Champaign native made only 5-of-20 shots from the floor, but still managed to score a game-high 22 to go along with five assists and only one turnover. He also had a huge hand in keeping the Hoosiers in the game in the first half. With IU trailing 32-20 with 3 ½ minutes remaining in the half, Jones scored nine straight as IU cut the deficit to five, 34-29. He then scored on a driving layup in the closing seconds to cut the deficit to three, moments before Devan Dumes' steal and halfcourt shot sent the two teams into the locker room tied at 36.

Biggest Surprise… Seeing Matt Roth dressed for the game and participating in warm-ups, and then seeing both Bawa Muniru and Tijan Jobe get minutes in the first half. Ever since the injury to Maurice Creek, Indiana has largely used an eight-man rotation. But on Saturday, ten different Hoosiers played at least five minutes in the first half alone. Indiana's decision to go with a bigger line-up and Tom Pritchard's habitual early-game foul trouble undoubtedly played a role in the increased minutes for Muniru and Jobe, but it could be a sign that one or both will continue to get at least spot duty on game days. As for Roth, the fact he was dressed suggests he's likely to play again this season and it figures to come soon. With only 10 regular season games to go and Indiana unlikely to be postseason bound, Roth has to be close to being ready if IU is considering playing him. On top of that, if he does play, it would seem probable that he'd see significant playing time off the bench. He averaged only 5.5 minutes/game in the two games he played in before the injury, and burning the redshirt for that sort of limited play also would seem unlikely.

What I Found Most Impressive… No one can confuse this as a game Indiana lost – instead, Illinois simply made a play to win it. In the first go around, Indiana squandered a 15-point lead in the first half and an eight-point lead in the game's final 10 minutes to let a winnable game slip away. But this time around, Indiana dug its way out of a 13-point first half and overcame a five-point second half deficit to give itself a chance. When a call didn't go IU's way and Illinois went up four on a couple of Mike Tisdale free throws with 1:00 remaining, Verdell Jones and Jeremiah Rivers both made two pressure-packed free throws of their own to tie the game and give IU a chance to force overtime. While it was still a loss, it was also a sign of progress. A very young Indiana team showed plenty of resiliency and late-game maturity, traits that will help Indiana down the stretch this season and into next year.

What I Found Most Concerning… Early on, Indiana was still showing signs of having some issues with its transition defense. On several occasions, Illinois' bigs were able to get behind IU's defenders and Demetri McCamey was adept at getting them the ball and creating some easy scoring opportunities. Those kind of easy baskets were a big reason why Illinois was able to jump t a quick 28-15 lead in the first half, and it's a reason why the decision to for Indiana to go with a bigger line-up isn't always an easy one. Those are exactly the kind of baskets Indiana can ill-afford to allow, particularly on the road where its margin for error is so small.

Turning Point: With Indiana leading 63-59 with 5:30 remaining, Illinois answered with a 7-2 run that recaptured the lead and IU would never lead again. After Christian Watford made his first and only field goal of the day on a jump hook to give IU the four-point lead, McCamey answered at the other end with an improbable, acrobatic up-and-under reverse layup to cut the lead to two. Tom Pritchard then made one of two free throws before McCamey found Bill Cole open for a 3-pointer that tied the game up. Devan Dumes followed that up by getting a bit out of control on a drive the basket that resulted in a travel call, and Tisdale capped Illinois' run with a pair of free throws to put Illinois on top 66-64. From that point forward, Indiana never had the ball in its hands with a chance to take the lead. It was trying to play catch up.

"It was a play for us to go backdoor, but they did a good job of switching. So I went to the basket. Once I got there I just threw up a teardrop, a shot I work on every day in practice. It was good once it left my hands." – Demetri McCamey

"In the huddle, everyone knew who it was going to when they drew it up. I just came and got it, and gave him a handoff trying to give him a little space. That kind of broke down too. Demetri just does what he does best, hit the lane and made a heck of a shot." – Illinois forward Bill Cole

"Most games, probably on both sides of the ball, coaches can always go back and look at buzzer-beaters where they made a few mistakes that should have never got to that point. I'm not sure that's the case in this game. On the last possession, they did something with it. Demetri McCamey had to change his shot, and he made a very tough shot. They deserved the victory." – IU Coach Tom Crean

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