Big Ten Conference Tournament Recaps
(Friday, March 15th)
Final Score: (3) Indiana 80, Illinois 64
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Cody Zeller scored 24 points to lead five Indiana players in double figures, as the third-ranked Hoosiers pulled away late to earn an 80-64 victory over Illinois in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.
Christian Watford scored 15 points, while Victor Oladipo and Yogi Ferrell each chipped in 12 for Indiana (27-5), which won the Big Ten regular season title outright for the first time since 1993 but has never won the tournament crown. The top-seeded Hoosiers, who also received 11 points from Will Sheehey, will next play Wisconsin in Saturday's semifinals after the Badgers knocked off Michigan.
"I thought we were very active, especially on the ball screens," Zeller said of his team's defense. "Sometimes, especially for me, it's, we're trying to blow out their screens and I thought we were aggressive overall. We had a lot of deflections, which is always a big key for us. I thought we were just active. The beauty of that is it leads into our offense I thought it really got our offense going."
Tracy Abrams and Brandon Paul each scored 16 points to lead Illinois (22-12), which beat Minnesota in the first round on Thursday to likely seal an NCAA Tournament bid. Paul, who hit the winning shot at the buzzer in the Illini's 51-49 win on Thursday, didn't make a field goal in the second half Friday.
"I felt we came in with the mindset that we can win all these games," Paul said. "We went through some rough stretches throughout the game and I felt like once we put two halves together we'll be in a good position. Sometimes one half our defense might be off or the next half our offense might be off. Once we put two halves together we're going to be a force to recon with."
Illinois handed Indiana one of its four conference losses, taking a 74-72 decision Feb. 7 in Champaign on Tyler Griffey's uncontested layup just before the buzzer.
The Hoosiers, who were No. 1 at the time, made sure this one never got that close.
Indiana never trailed and opened a 10-2 lead just under seven minutes into the contest. The Hoosiers continued to play front-runner and built a 26-9 margin with just under six minutes remaining in the first half before carrying a 35-21 advantage to the break.
The Illini pulled within 10 early in the second half, but couldn't get closer until two free throws from D.J. Richardson made it a 60-52 game with 8:17 to play. The Hoosiers, who had an answer every time Illinois made it a 10-point game earlier in the half, came up empty when Jordan Hulls missed from beyond the arc.
However, the Illini failed to convert on their next two trips before a layup from Oladipo and a three from Watford made it 65-52 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining.
Illinois got only as close as 11 from there and a 13-4 run in the final few minutes gave Indiana its largest lead at 80-60 with a minute to play.
Paul finished 2-for-13 from the field and was 11-of-12 from the free throw line ... Richardson and Griffey each scored nine for the Illini, who shot just 34.5 percent overall ... Indiana shot 54 percent from the field, led by Zeller's 9-for-11 effort ... Zeller also had nine rebounds, while Oladipo had a game-high 11 boards ... Indiana outrebounded Illinois, 38-26 ... The Hoosiers have reached the Big Ten championship game just once, falling to Iowa in 2001.
Final Score: (22) Wisconsin 68, (6) Michigan 59
Chicago, IL (Sports Network) - Traevon Jackson led a balanced Wisconsin attack with 16 points, as the 22nd-ranked Badgers knocked off No. 6 Michigan, 68-59, in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday at United Center.
Ben Brust followed with 14 points and eight rebounds, while Ryan Evans added 12 points, six boards and six assists for the Badgers (22-10), who snuck past the Wolverines in overtime in their only meeting this season on Feb. 9.
"You got to come focused, whether it's practice or the game," Evans said of playing in the Big Ten. "That's going to get you the win at the end of the day and that's why we have been able to be consistent until this point."
A date with the top-seeded Hoosiers awaits the Badgers in the semifinals, although Wisconsin did upend then-No. 2 Indiana in Wisconsin on Jan. 15.
Trey Burke poured in a game-high 19 points and handed out seven assists, while Tim Hardaway Jr. finished with 14 points and nine boards for the Wolverines (26-7), who will head into the NCAA Tournament with losses in two of their last three games.
"We can't continue to make the same mistakes, because sooner or later we'll be done," Burke remarked. "So hopefully we'll learn from this loss and get better."
Michigan jumped out to a 16-6 advantage just under 13 minutes in, but the Wolverines managed just two field goals over the final 7:10 of the half, allowing the Badgers, who went just 5-for-29 from the field in the first half, to pull within 20-17 at the break.
A pair of free throws from Hardaway had the lead at 24-19 early in the second before Brust buried a 3-pointer to spark a 10-0 sprint that Frank Kaminsky capped with a triple of his own to give the Badgers a five-point edge.
Hardaway knocked down a triple near the midpoint of the half to bring the Wolverines within three, but after an exchange of buckets, Jackson hit a jumper to send the Badgers on a 7-0 sprint that Brust capped with a trey to give Wisconsin a 56-45 cushion with just over six minutes to play.
Michigan wouldn't go quietly, as the Wolverines came roaring back with a 9-0 spurt that Burke capped with a sensational reverse layup to bring his team within 56-54 with 3:35 left.
Michigan, though, would get no closer, as Kaminsky quelled the run with a tough midrange jumper that sent the Badgers on a 10-2 surge to push the margin to 66-56 with 29 seconds left.
Burke buried a triple with 20 seconds left to give Michigan one last glimmer of hope, but Jackson knocked down a pair of free throws at the other end to seal the outcome.
Wisconsin finished 38.6 percent (22-for-57) from the floor overall ... Michigan went 0-for-5 from 3-point range in the first half and finished 3- for-13 overall ... Kaminsky finished with eight points for Wisconsin.
03/15 19:06:27 ET