CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Tyler Griffey made the easiest and biggest shot of his career.
The senior forward took an inbounds pass and made a wide-open layup with 0.9 seconds to play to give Illinois a 74-72 victory over No. 1 Indiana on Thursday, the fifth straight week the nation’s top-ranked team lost.
Hoosiers coach Tom Crean, whose team has been No. 1 for a total of seven weeks this season, doesn’t have an explanation for the recent weekly changes on top of the poll.
“I can’t answer that. I’m not sure,” Crean said. “I just know that these games are 40-minute games. We played at a high level for most of the game.”
The Hoosiers were in charge until the final 3½ minutes when the Illini (16-8, 3-7 Big Ten) finally put together a run to take and then retake the lead. Illinois outscored Indiana 13-2 in the final 3:36.
“I know this, when we turn the ball over we’re not very good,” Crean said. “And the biggest difference tonight was 28 points off turnovers to our 16.”
And nothing could have been worse for the Hoosiers (20-3, 8-2) than the way the game ended.
With 0.9 seconds to play, Griffey left defenders Cody Zeller and Christian Watford behind on an inbounds play from the baseline, took the pass from Brandon Paul and delivered the uncontested buzzer beater.
“I just made a simple curl cut and left two guys behind me, and Brandon got off a heck of a pass,” Griffey said. “Zeller and Watford were both right in front of me and just kind of stayed there.”
The shot sent hundreds of students onto the court, holding their collective breath as officials checked the replay to make sure the clock hadn’t beaten Griffey. Paul and fellow guard D.J. Richardson hugged and teared up with relief.
Illinois had lost eight of 11 since starting the season 12-0. The Illini had been ranked as high as No. 10 and were falling to the bottom of the Big Ten.
Indiana had just moved into the No. 1 spot by beating then-No. 1 Michigan on Saturday. The Hoosiers’ loss drops them into a three-way tie for first in the Big Ten with Michigan and Michigan State.
Illinois hadn’t beaten a No. 1 team since a 2004 win over Wake Forest. Coming into Thursday, the Illini already had beaten three teams now ranked in the top 15: No. 6 Gonzaga, No. 10 Ohio State and No. 14 Butler.
Richardson had 23 points for Illinois, Paul had 21 and Griffey finished with 14 points and eight rebounds off the bench.
Zeller led Indiana with 14 points.