Sunday, January 19, 2003

No. 18 Indiana 84, No. 8 Illinois 66

Newton sparks Hoosiers over Illini

The Indianapolis Star

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Jeff Newton constantly hears the talk that Illinois forward Brian Cook, the Big Ten's leading scorer, is the best big man in the conference.

On Saturday, Newton made a pitch on national television to have his name mentioned among the league's best. He scored 28 points and pulled down eight rebounds to lead No. 18 Indiana to a 74-66 victory over No. 8 Illinois before a raucous crowd of 17,456 at Assembly Hall.

"I feel like this was a statement game not just for our team, but for me, too," Newton said. "I really look forward to playing against Illinois. The intensity is always so high and the crowd is always in it. I think they're one of our biggest rivals right now."

The win was particularly big for Indiana (13-3, 3-1) because the Hoosiers were playing without leading scorer Bracey Wright for the second game in a row. Wright, the Big Ten's second-leading scorer with a 19.1 average, has been slowed by a pinched nerve in his back, and remains questionable for Tuesday's rematch with Ohio State.

"I don't know what to think right now. My back is just sore," said Wright, who sat on the floor at the end of the bench during the game, his legs stretched out. "I hope I can play Tuesday against Ohio State, but it's probably too early to tell."

The Hoosiers put forth an emotional display of basketball without Wright.

Marshall Strickland came off the bench and hit three big 3-point shots. Sean Kline was active on both ends of the floor and made all three of his shots for six points. Donald Perry made 5-of-6 free throws in the final two minutes.

A.J. Moye provided energy - and nine points - in his second start in a row, and George Leach twice leapt successfully for loose balls, one time jumping over the IU bench for a save. He finished with eight points and 11 rebounds. Seldom-used forward Mike Roberts played the final five minutes of the first half, and had two rebounds and made two free throws. Roberts had played only 15 minutes the entire season.

"This was a team win in every sense of the word," said senior guard Tom Coverdale. "That's what was missing there for a while, but now it's back. We were on the floor for every loose ball and we're playing hard. That's what we need to do all the time."

IU received a major spark off the bench as four players combined for 22 points. But Newton was the single most dominant player.

"The point of emphasis the last couple of games was to go inside," said IU coach Mike Davis. "For Jeff Newton to come out and score 28 points and play the way he did today is really big."

Playing on the same stage as Cook, Newton stood above the crowd. Along with his 28 points, he had a season high in blocked shots with five, and tied a career high with three steals.

"I thought (Newton) was really good," said Illinois coach Bill Self. "He put the ball down and beat us off the bounce. I was really disappointed with how our big guys moved their feet. We didn't crowd him and he was able to get around us."

Cook scored 15 points and pulled down seven rebounds for the Illini (12-3, 2-2) before fouling out with 4:59 remaining. Dee Brown led Illinois with 18 points.

Illinois led 11-4 in the first three minutes, before IU went on a 10-0 run to take a 14-11 lead. When Moye hit an inside shot with 10:37 to play in the half, IU had a 16-14 edge and never trailed again.

IU led by as many as 15 in the second half at 60-45 with 8:57 to play following an 8-foot turnaround by Newton.

Illinois cut the lead to four twice in the closing minutes, but IU won it with foul shooting. Perry made all four free throws in the final 40 seconds and Newton was perfect on two others.

UC 77, Tulane 54
UC notebook: Flowers uses his time wisely

Xavier 86, UMass 73

No. 16 Kentucky 88, No. 10 Notre Dame 73
Short benching at Vandy motivates Hayes to play
No. 18 Indiana 84, No. 8 Illinois 66
No. 15 Louisville 87, TCU 74
Miami 77, Ohio 65
No. 17 Maryland 87, No. 1 Duke 72
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