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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, January 07, 2017 4:35 pm

Hoosiers snap skid with blowout of Illini

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – Indiana, on a three-game losing streak, seemingly needed a big-time blowout for a confidence boost.

The Hoosiers got just that Saturday, rolling to a 96-80 win over Illinois at Assembly Hall after starting the game on a 15-0 run. Indiana shot a sizzling 59 percent and led by as many as 22 on a day most everything went right.

The Fighting Illini (11-5, 1-2 Big Ten) did draw within 81-72 with 5 1/2 minutes remaining but could get no closer. They ended up shooting 44 percent but couldn't overcome 7-for-24 shooting in the first half, after which Indiana led 48-29.

James Blackmon Jr. posted a game-high 25 points, nearly matching the 32 points he scored in the entirety of the three-game skid, and Thomas Bryant (20 points, six rebounds) and Robert Johnson (18 points) also came up big for Indiana (11-5, 1-2).

Malcolm Hill, Illinois' top scorer, recovered from picking up three fouls in the game's initial four minutes to have 21 points, a total matched by teammate Jalen Coleman-Lands, an Indianapolis native.

The Hoosiers blew out Illinois twice last season and have won four straight overall against their neighboring rival. So frustrating was the nature of this game that Illini game coach John Groce earned a technical foul in the latter stages.

OG Anunoby chipped in 12 points as Indiana coach Tom Crean brought the sophomore forward off the bench for the fourth time this season. Juwan Morgan, who started in Anunoby's spot at power forward, scored only two points before fouling out.

The Hoosiers were whistled for 28 fouls, their most in a regulation contest and nearly equivalent to their season high of 31 set in the opener against Kansas, a 103-99 overtime victory in Hawaii.