BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell was the first to connect from long range.
Then Troy Williams hit a pair of 3-pointers of his own.
Thomas Bryant, an unlikely shooter, hit one. Ferrell hit again before Nick Zeisloft joined in on the 3-point parade that ended with walk-on Harrison Niego hitting a record-breaking 19th 3-pointer in the closing seconds of Indiana’s 103-69 win over Illinois Tuesday night.
The win was another not-so-subtle reminder of Indiana’s shooting potential, even without the injured James Blackmon Jr. The Hoosiers (16-3, 6-0) ran away from the Illini (9-10, 1-5) early on and finished connecting on 19-of-36 treys and 57 percent from the field overall.
“I thought our guys were really locked in,” head coachTom Crean said.
Indiana’s sharpshooting from beyond the arc—nine different players hit treys—provided most of the heavy lifting in the victory, the Hoosiers’ sixth in a row in the Big Ten and 11th overall. IU hasn’t lost since December 2 against Duke at Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“It’s not like we come out and that’s our game plan is to shoot threes,” said Williams, who had a game-high 21 points. “Just shooting the right shot at the right time.”
The shooting display partially overshadowed a historic night for Ferrell, who finished with 16 points and nine assists.
The 11:19 left in the first half, the senior guard rifled a no-look pass to fifth-year senior forward Max Bielfeldt, who gathered the ball in stride and finished with a layup to give Ferrell the all-time program record for assists.
Not that either player realized it.
“Oh, is that what it was?” Ferrell said postgame, turning to Bielfeldt. “I guess I got 20 dollars for you.”
Ferrell later clarified he was joking.
“I’m a broke college kid, man,” he said.
Broke, but successful. When Ferrell checked out of the game for the final time with 4:25 left—the Hoosiers were up by 37 points by then—Crean grabbed Ferrell’s hand and raised it high into the air to a standing ovation like a prize fighter who just won a championship belt.
It was a rare instance for Crean. He doesn’t normally like to talk about legacies or history during the season.
But for at least a moment, the celebration was appropriate.
“That was pretty cool, man, all the fans cheering for me,” Ferrell said. “It just shows how special Hoosier Nation is.”
Ferrell has stayed firm in saying he doesn’t care much for personal accolades or recognitions. He didn’t even know the name Michael Lewis, who had previously held the record.
Ferrell’s quick to say he appreciates the support he’s received and doesn’t take the accomplishments lightly, but then he’ll add that he doesn’t put much stock into his own numbers because he cares more about team wins.
In that regard, Tuesday night’s result was exactly what he wanted.
And that will do for now.
“Collectively, we know what we want to do,” Ferrell said. “And when we know what we want to do, we’re unstoppable.”