Abrams Leads Illinois Past Indiana 64-54
By The Associated Press, with additional reporting from Rob McColley
Tracy Abrams had 25 points to lead ninth-seeded Illinois to a 64-54 win over eight-seed Indiana on Thursday in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.
The Illini (19-13) used runs of 9-0 in the first half and 11-0 in the second half to improve to 6-2 all-time against Indiana in the Big Ten Tournament.
The victory sends Illinois into a second-round matchup on Friday with Big Ten regular season champion No. 8 Michigan.
Abrams stymied a late rally by the Hoosiers (17-15) with a 3-pointer and two free throws that turned a late 53-52 Illinois lead into a 58-52 advantage.
Abrams led the team in scoring, but Coach John Groce said it was the defensive effort that won the game.
"That's not real sexy - the defensive end," he said. "That takes toughness. That takes being physical, throwing your body around, playing really hard, executing. I think it's a big reason why we've been able to have some better results here late in the year."
Rayvonte Rice added 13 points and Kendrick Nunn scored 10 for the Illini.
Yogi Ferrell led the Hoosiers with 14 points. Will Sheehey added 13 points - 11 of them in the first half - and Troy Williams scored 11 for Indiana.