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Illini exit early from Big Ten Tournament in 65-63 loss to Indiana

Indiana's Jordan Geronimo can't reach a rebound over Illini Coleman Hawkins, Friday in Indianapolis

INDIANAPOLIS -The Illini men’s basketball team won’t win a second consecutive Big Ten Tournament.

Ninth-seeded Indiana played its way into the NCAA tournament this afternoon in Indianapolis with a 65-63 win over the top seeded Illini.

The Illini converted just 15 of their 23 shots from the free-throw line, while Indiana was 10 of 13. The Hoosiers shot 46.4% from the floor to Illinois’s 37.5%. Rebounds were 37 to 35 in favor of the Illini. Illinois committed 8 turnovers to Indiana’s 7.

The loss spoiled a breakout performance by Illini forward Coleman Hawkins, who shot 4-7 from three-point range and finished with 18 points. Kofi Cockburn led all-scorers with 23 points for the Illini, and grabbed a game-high 10 rebounds. Andre Curbelo also grabbed ten boards for Illinois.

Trayce Jackson-Davis led Indiana with 21 points, and Xavier Johnson added 13.

Illini coach Brad Underwood shrugged off the loss, saying his team’s sights were focused on the more important NCAA Tournament, for which he was happy to have a couple of extra days rest.

Selection Sunday is 48 hours away. Illinois will find out where they’re seeded, and where they’re playing, at the same time everyone else does.

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