Indiana pulls upset of Illini
Published: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 18, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Mike Davis wasn't even sure Marco Killingsworth could play Tuesday night. Fortunately for Indiana, Killingsworth's back proved strong enough to carry the Hoosiers.
Killingsworth overcame pregame back spasms to dominate the middle in the second half, and Roderick Wilmont added 17 points as the 13th-ranked Hoosiers upset No. 7 Illinois 62-60.
"I didn't even think he could go," Davis said. "But he fought through it and played a great second half."
The Fighting Illini (16-2, 2-2) had no answer for the Hoosiers' tandem.
Wilmont provided the spark in the first half after Indiana fell into an early 11-point hole. Killingsworth scored 20 of his 23 points in the second half and added 12 rebounds, one assist and four blocks.
But Wilmont was every bit as impressive. He tied a season high with 17 points, matched his career-high with nine rebounds and sparked an 18-0 first-half run that gave Indiana the momentum it needed.
After the game, Hoosiers fans poured onto the court, setting off a celebration that even Killingsworth joined.
"I jumped right in there because I ain't used to seeing that," said Killingsworth, a fifth-year senior who transferred to Indiana from Auburn. "So I jumped in there with them."
For Illinois, it was a rare bad night.
The Illini entered Tuesday with 55 wins in their last 57 regular-season games. They'd beaten Indiana five straight times and have now lost to only four Big Ten teams since Jan. 24, 2004 - Iowa, Ohio State, Wisconsin and Indiana.
Shaun Pruitt led the Illini with a career-high 17 points. Brian Randle added 15 and James Augustine had 11. Dee Brown, Illinois' top player, was limited to five points but had 11 assists before fouling out.
And Illinois has now lost two of its last three, while Indiana has won 11 straight conference games at home.
"Marco's a good player and sooner or later he's going to get some things," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "In the first half we did a good job fighting him, but it's tough. He's just good."
Killingsworth needed more than solid play to produce against Illinois, though.
He asked to be taken out just 59 seconds into the game, then struggled to get going when he returned. When he did post up, shots weren't falling. And without their big man, the Hoosiers looked out of sync. Just eight minutes into the game, Indiana had committed seven turnovers and already trailed 14-3.
That's when Wilmont provided the spark.
He hit two straight 3-pointers to get the Hoosiers righted, then used his energy to start an improbable 18-0 spurt that Indiana used to turn a 19-9 deficit into a 27-19 lead. Illinois went nearly 6 1/2 minutes without a point, and Brown's 3-pointer at the end of the half managed to get the Illini within 28-24.
Killingsworth was 1-of-5 from the field, 1-of-3 from the free-throw line and had an ailing back that needed more than a rubdown.
"At halftime, I just prayed," he said.
The Hoosiers relied on him more in the second half.
Davis directed his players to start exploiting the middle, especially after the Illini's interior players started to get into foul trouble. This time, Killingsworth took advantage by hitting short shots, drawing repeated fouls and creating havoc in the middle for Illinois.
He looked like a completely different player.
"It seemed like the rim was that big," Killingsworth said, extending his hands. "Stuff just started going in. I couldn't believe some of the stuff that was going in."
Illinois was surprised, too.
They tried switching matching up, switching defenders, forcing the ball out of Killingsworth's hands. But nothing worked.
During a 15-6 run that gave Indiana a 55-40 lead with 8:23 left, Killingsworth scored 12 points.
"We focused on him a lot, but we're going to have to do a better job than that from here on out," Augustine said.
Kentucky's losing streak is over.
Randolph Morris scored 14 points in his return home and the Wildcats pulled away in the second half, avoiding their first four-game skid since 1989.
Kentucky (11-6, 1-2 Southeastern Conference) had lost three in a row, including two defeats at Rupp Arena to conference foes. The Wildcats fell behind 18-8 before the game was 7 minutes old, but they quickly rebounded against the Bulldogs (11-6, 1-3).
Randy Foye scored 19 points, Kyle Lowry had 14 and No. 8 host Villanova survived another tight one in a win over Seton Hall.
The Wildcats (12-2, 3-1 Big East) sorely needed this one after their roughest week of the season. They sandwiched a tougher-than-expected overtime win at Rutgers between losses against then No. 24-West Virginia and then-No. 8 Texas and tumbled five spots in The Associated Press' Top 25.
Kevin Pittsnogle scored 18 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help host West Virginia win its 11th straight game, beating Providence.
It's the school's longest streak since the Mountaineers won 22 in a row during the 1988-89 season. West Virginia (13-3, 5-0 Big East) is also off to its best start in the league since joining 11 years ago.
Craig Smith scored 19 to surpass the 2,000-point milestone, and had a career-high 17 rebounds as visiting Boston College beat Holy Cross.
Smith, the school's first preseason All-America selection, came into the game with 1,998 career points. But he scored just two in the first half, making 2-of-4 free throws and missing his only shot from the field, and BC (13-4) struggled to put Holy Cross (9-9) away.
Coach Rick Stansbury said sophomore Walter Sharpe and freshman Jerrell Houston were kicked off the team for violating unspecified team rules.
The dismissal ends Sharpe's troubled career in Starkville. The sophomore missed the first seven games this season because he was academically ineligible, and averaged 9.3 points and five rebounds in six games.
Last season, he skipped a practice before the NCAA tournament and did not travel with the team to their first- and second-round games in Charlotte, N.C.
He also missed a team flight to Anaheim, Calif., for a December 2004 game and received several suspensions for being late to games, practices and shoot-arounds last season.
After the Bulldogs lost to Duke in the second round of the NCAA tournament, Sharpe said he "more than likely" would transfer, but reconsidered and returned to the team, and enrolled in a junior college near his home in Birmingham, Ala., to regain his eligibility.
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