DAVID MERCER, Associated Press
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — For 20-plus minutes Thursday night, No. 18 Indiana was in a tough game at Illinois.
The Illini took a 28-27 lead into halftime, and the crowd was enjoying a chance to make some noise and direct it at the Hoosiers.
Then the Big Ten leaders turned things over to Yogi Ferrell.
The senior guard had 27 points, 19 in the second half, to lead the Hoosiers past the Illini 74-47 in a tight game that turned into a blowout.
Indiana outscored Illinois 47-19 in the final 20 minutes.
“We had to create our own energy so I was out here just talking to those guys all the time — whether it was defense or offense, just not letting those guys hang their heads, and go on to the next play,” Ferrell said.
Trying to dissect his team’s sixth loss in eight games, Illini coach John Groce kept it simple: Ferrell gave the Hoosiers “their edge.”
“I just thought Yogi Ferrell took the game over,” Groce said. “And not just from a scoring perspective. You stand courtside and you hear his leadership. … He’s clapping his hands. He’s talking to the bench. He’s into the game.”
Nick Zeisloft added 14 points for Indiana (23-6, 13-3), and Thomas Bryant had 14 points and eight rebounds. Ferrell’s 19 points in the second half matched the entire output for Illinois (12-16, 4-11).
Jalen Coleman-Lands led the Illini with 21 points.
Indiana held Illinois’ top two scorers, Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn, to a combined 13 points. Hill entered averaging 18.6 per game, and Nunn 16.4.
The Hoosiers blew out Illinois with a barrage of second-half 3-pointers, going 10 for 17 from behind the arc over the final 20 minutes. They hit three in the first half.
Ferrell finished 11 of 18 from the field, including 5 for 10 from 3-point range.
One particular sequence illustrated what Ferrell means to the Hoosiers at both ends of the court. With just under 10 minutes left and the Illini trying to claw their way back into it, Nunn held the ball just outside the 3-point line as Illinois started to set up its offense.
But before Nunn could even glance at a teammate, Ferrell scooted by him, swiped the ball from a stunned Nunn and broke to the other end of the court. Ferrell’s easy layup put the Hoosiers up 50-37.
Just 2 minutes later, Ferrell sank a 3 that put Indiana ahead 56-37 and silenced the arena — except for the red-clad fans scattered here and there, and his own bench, which was whooping it up.
“He plays with a lot of confidence and he brings a lot of confidence to his teammates,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “At the same time, there’s very few nights that he doesn’t draw the toughest assignment from the other team.”
Hill is Illinois’ best weapon, and Indiana took him all but out of the game. By halftime he’d taken a total of two shots, missing both.
When he tried to force himself into it in the second half, the Hoosiers shut him down.
With the Illini down by six with just under 17 minutes left, Hill drove toward the basket but found two Hoosiers between himself and the rim when he got there. The junior was forced to kick the ball out to a teammate, who missed his shot, and Illinois came away with nothing.
BETTER ON THE BOARDS
Indiana outrebounded the Illini 37-17. Bryant led the way with eight, while Troy Williams, Collin Hartman and Ferrell had five apiece. No Illinois player had more than four.
“When you outrebound a team by 20, that’s huge,” Crean said. “And it’s got to come from a lot of people.”
Illinois has made a habit this season of carrying leads into halftime that it can’t hold. The Illini led Notre Dame, Northwestern, Wisconsin and Michigan at the break, and lost to all four.
Indiana: Starting guard Robert Johnson missed the game with a sprained ankle. … The Hoosiers close the regular season with a pair of games against ranked teams, at No. 8 Iowa and at home against No. 10 Maryland.
Illinois: The team’s only win over a ranked opponent this season was Jan. 10 against then-No. 20 Purdue. Since then the Illini have gone 3-8. Illinois is 1-5 against Top 25 teams this season. … Coleman-Lands was the only Illinois player who scored in double figures.
Indiana travels to No. 8 Iowa on Tuesday.
Illinois closes its home schedule Sunday against Minnesota.
Follow David Mercer on Twitter, @davidmercerAP
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