LIVE! Indiana

LIVE! Indiana

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Leron Black scored 20 points and was one of three Illinois players in double figures, but the Illini dropped their fourth straight game wiht a 78-68 loss at Indiana. Kipper Nichols added 16 points for Illinois, and Trent Frazier finished with 12.

Be sure to check out Thursday's News-Gazette and here at IlliniHQ.com for more from the game.

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Indiana 51, Illinois 49 — 11:46 left in 2nd half

How is this possible? That's the thought right now with Illinois trailing just two points at the "midway" point of the second half. Thankfully, that's why I'm here. To answer such questions. Because as crazy as it seems — think of all the self-inflicted issues for the Illini — they're in this game.

How? Zero turnovers for Illinois compared to six for Indiana has certainly helped. So has Leron Black going 4 of 5 from the field for 11 points in the half (giving him 20 for the game). But Illini foul trouble could spell their downfall. The Hoosiers are just two more Illinois fouls from being in the double bonus the rest of the game.

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Indiana 35, Illinois 25 — Halftime

Let's start on a positive note. The second-to-last play Illinois ran before halftime was big boy basketball. Matic Vesel set a high ball screen for Trent Frazier, who used a dribble drive to draw the attention of the Indiana defense. Leron Black was cutting hard from the baseline at the same time and was open to receive a pass from Frazier he slammed home. An Indiana foul and Black's free throw cut Illinois' deficit to 10 at the break. 

Considering the Illini went about 6 minutes without scoring — another one of those lengthy scoring droughts that have become commonplace the last couple weeks — trailing by 10 points at halftime probably isn't that bad. What is bad? Illinois shooting 1 of 12 (8 percent) from three-point range and giving up a bunch of points in transition to the Hoosiers.

Now, to social media!

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Illinois 14, Indiana 12 — 11:37 left in 1st half

A few observations ...

— Greg Eboigbodin and Kipper Nichols are both on the bench in foul trouble with two apiece. Nichols pulled off a real doozy with two fouls in an 11-second span. Not ideal.

— That foul trouble leaves Leron Black as the only Illinois big man unless you count Matic Vesel. At this point of the season, I don't. It's going to leave Black defending Indiana's Juwan Morgan. I don't like the matchup for the Illini.

— Te'Jon Lucas has changed his free throw routine. It looks a little funny, and I'm curious about how effective it will be. So far he's 1 of 2 tonight and the miss was a bad one.

— Trent Frazier leads the Illini with six points, and he hasn't even hit a three-pointer. Had good looks from deep (except one that got blocked). Just hasn't converted. Did pull off a wicked baseline turnaround jumper.

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Illinois 9, Indiana 6 — 15:28 left in 1st half

The first 4 1/2 minutes have been a little disjointed, but Illinois is doing a couple things well. The Illini are cutting hard offensively (Brad Underwood will be happy) and really crashing the offensive boards (Underwood will be really happy).

           Follow me on Twitter for more updates than appear here in the LIVE! Report.

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Illinois at Indiana — 7:30 p.m., BTN

So where does the Illinois locker room stand at 12-14 on the season and 2-11 in the Big Ten? Freshman forward Greg Eboigbodin shared an honest answer.

"The guys are really disappointed because we work so hard like any other team in the Big Ten," he said. "Falling short most of the time is depressing. Guys are not really happy. We’re just looking forward to trying to make a run in the last few games we have left."

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Illinois at Indiana — 7:30 p.m., BTN

Who knows how tonight's game will go, but you'll always have this Illini fans ...

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Illinois at Indiana — 7:30 p.m., BTN

A bare minimum goal for the Illini tonight against the Hoosiers? A better game than the one they played Sunday in losing at home by 22 points to Penn State. Brad Underwood had some thoughts thinking back on that game.

"Very tough, disappointing game against Penn State," he said. "A game that in looking back at the tape really we had every opportunity to kind of put a dagger in them in the first half with some different things. Then hold them scoreless the first five possessions of the second half, and we can’t take advantage of that.

"We had chances to get up 7-8-9-10 in the first half and really put them in a demoralizing situation. We didn’t do that. We missed a dunk. We missed a layup in transition. We missed a couple free throws — front ends. Those are huge momentum plays we have to understand. We have to be on top of those things. We talked about those things and then really our lack of effort in the second half in terms of just competing."

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Illinois at Indiana — 7:30 p.m., BTN

Don't forget. The Illini beat the Hoosiers once already this season — even with Juwan Morgan dropping a game high 28 points for Indiana. Illinois countered with 19 points apiece from Trent Frazier and Leron Black. That Kipper Nichols (12 points) and Te'Jon Lucas (11 points) were also in double figures was a rare occurrence this season. What Illlinois needs to have happen to win? Probably.

"It was a good college game," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said of his team's 73-71 vvictory. "Not just because we won the game, but I enjoyed watching it. It had some ebb and flow to it. It was a game of adjustments. They were effective with (Juwan) Morgan in some ways we had to adjust to.

"I thought we ran very good offense for the most part. They were very good in transition and capitalized on our quick shots and a couple live ball turnovers. I would expect some of the same things. Archie’s one of the best tacticians and X and O guys out there."

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Illinois at Indiana — 7:30 p.m., BTN

Bit of news to get us going here in Bloomington. Michael Finke (concussion) did not travel with the team to Indiana. Da'Monte Williams is here, but he won't play either (left leg). So what's been a regular nine-man rotation for Illinois is going to be a bit shorter. 

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Welcome back to another LIVE! Report on the road — one of the last of its kind this basketball season with just five games left in the regular season.

And, to get it out of the way early, here's just one bad/forced Valentine's Day reference as Illinois and Indiana are an hour away from tipoff here at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington ... Winless in all seven true road games this season, the Illini certainly haven't felt the love away from State Farm Center.

Of course, playing at home hasn't always been to Illinois' advantage either. Except when it came to facing Indiana this season. The Illini won their first Big Ten game of the season in a 73-71 victory against the Hoosiers last month — one of what's still just two conference wins on the year.

Will Illinois make it three and get the season sweep against Indiana? Having beaten the Hoosiers once already, it's not out of the realm of possiblity even if the Illini haven't won in Bloomington since 2010. Not that those past losses have anything to do with this team — new coach, plenty of new players — but sometimes history has a strange way of worming its way in as a factor.

We'll see. And with tipoff still an hour away at the only remaining Assembly Hall in the Big Ten, catch up on all of our Illinois basketball coverage from this week so far:

Lineups, storylines and the beat writer's pick

Five things to know with the Illini playing at Indiana

Some interesting details from Brad Underwood's contract

Penn State coach Pat Chambers understands what Underwood is facing

Offer out to 2019 forward that could reclassify

And one to one of the best JUCO rebounders in the country

Get your questions in for this week's basketball chat (2:30 p.m. tomorrow)

Eboigbodin looking to match January breakout

CHAMPAIGN —The first half of January doubled as one long breakout moment for Illinois’ Greg Eboigbodin.

The freshman forward had played sparingly — or not at all on two occasions — during the first month-and-a-half of the season. Eboigbodin scored his first point on a free throw against Marshall in the fourth game of the year, didn’t make his first shot until Dec. 3 against Maryland and never scored more than two points in a game.

Then Eboigbodin hit 4 of 5 shots, scored nine points and pulled down a few rebounds as Big Ten play resumed for Illinois on Jan. 3 at Minnesota.

He added a career-high 10 points three days later at Michigan.

And then he scored eight points twice in the next three games while shooting 18 of 23 from the field (78 percent) in a five-game stretch.

After getting the first start of his career Sunday against Penn State in place of an injured Michael Finke, Eboigbodin will enter today’s rematch with Indiana having scored just four points in Illinois’ last six games.

To continue reading, click here. Then keep coming back to IlliniHQ.com before, during and after tonight's game for our comprehensive, on-site coverage.