Sunday, March 11, 2001

Davis has Hoosiers in new territory

Upset of Illinois puts Indiana in title game

The Associated Press

        CHICAGO — When Mike Davis took over in September, no one expected Indiana to contend for a Big Ten title.

        The fallout from Bob Knight's firing was too messy — too public — to overcome in one season. There were so many distractions, there was no way Indiana could excel.

        Yet look at Davis' Hoosiers now. They're in the Big Ten Tournament final against Iowa after knocking off No.4 Illinois 58-56 Saturday. Iowa beat Penn State 94-74.

        Tom Coverdale had 17 points, and Kirk Haston blocked Frank Williams' last-second layup attempt.

        “When the season started, the players stepped up and said we wanted Coach Davis to be here, or a lot of us probably wouldn't have come back,” Coverdale said. “If he's not the coach after what he's done, something's wrong.”

        The Hoosiers (21-11) have won nine of their past 11 games, and Davis is the first Indiana coach to win 21 games in his first season. In one year, Davis has won more games in the Big Ten Tournament (two) than Knight managed in three years (one).

        “I feel real good about this ball team right now,” Davis said. “Our confidence is sky-high.”

        It should be. Illinois, the tournament's top seed, probably had a chance to lock up the No.1 seed in the Midwest Region of the NCAAs after No.2 Michigan State lost to Penn State on Friday.

        Instead, the Illini (24-7) put together one of their sloppiest and most disorganized efforts of the season.

        “Indiana's a tough defensive team, but about all we took were tough shots,” Illinois coach Bill Self said.

        The Illini shot less than 33 percent and had 12 turnovers. Williams, with 14 points, was the only Illinois player in double figures. Cory Bradford had nine points on 3-of-11 shooting. Sergio McClain missed two free throws in the last 50 seconds and finished with two points.

        And then there was Williams. He was nearly perfect Friday with a season-high 11 assists and no turnovers in 30 minutes, and then he followed it up with an impressive offensive display in the first half Saturday.

        But he disappeared in the second half, scoring just three points. Part of the reason was Indiana's Dane Fife, who smothered the Big Ten's player of the year.

        “It's always scary to go against Frank, because he can do so many things,” Fife said.

        Williams finished with four turnovers and three assists.

        “I was a little selfish today,” Williams said. “Guys were open in the last game and I was finding them.”

        Haston finished with 16 points, three blocks and two steals. Jared Jeffries had 10 points and seven rebounds. Jarrad Odle had seven rebounds in 29 minutes.

        “Someone told me we kind of reminded them of the '81 (national) championship team,” Odle said. “They didn't have a real good beginning of the year and then put something together at the end and made a run.”

        INDIANA (21-11) — Jeffries 4-11 2-4 10, Newton 0-1 1-2 1, Haston 7-15 1-2 16, Coverdale 7-14 0-2 17, Fife 3-5 0-0 7, Moye 1-1 0-0 2, Owens 0-0 0-0 0, Odle 1-2 3-4 5. Totals 23-49 7-14 58.

        ILLINOIS (24-7) — McClain 0-6 2-4 2, Cook 3-7 2-2 9, Griffin 1-3 2-2 4, Bradford 3-11 1-2 9, Williams 5-16 3-5 14, Archibald 3-3 3-3 9, Johnson 1-4 1-2 3, Harrington 2-5 0-0 6, Krupalija 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-55 14-20 56.

        Halftime—Illinois 29-26. 3-Point goals—Indiana 5-17 (Coverdale 3-9, Fife 1-2, Haston 1-5, Jeffries 0-1), Illinois 6-22 (Harrington 2-4, Bradford 2-8, Cook 1-3, Williams 1-5, McClain 0-1, Johnson 0-1). Fouled out—Newton. Rebounds—Indiana 36 (Jeffries, Coverdale, Odle 7). Illinois—34 (Cook 5). Assists—Indiana 15 (Coverdale, Fife 5), Illinois 12 (McClain, Williams 3). Total fouls—Indiana 20, Illinois 17.


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