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Indiana deals Illinois 4th loss in 5 games

Updated: September 24, 2012 6:25AM

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. —For No. 20 Illinois, the challenge Thursday was to take care of business against injury-riddled, struggling Indiana.

But the Illini were not up to the challenge. Led by 18 points from sophomore guard Jordan Hulls, the Hoosiers pulled off a 52-49 shocker. To celebrate Tom Crean’s biggest win in his three years at Indiana, excited IU students and fans stormed the court.

‘‘I attempted to slap hands with everybody in the building,’’ Crean said after posting his first IU win against a ranked team.

‘‘I think I got to half of them. It’s an amazing feeling to see people that happy.’’

Meanwhile, after losing for the fourth time in five games, Illinois (14-7, 4-4 Big Ten) is left to ponder where it went wrong. The common threads in all of its losses: Failure to expand leads before crunch time — and failure to make the clutch play at the end.

‘‘We had plenty of chances; we just didn’t get baskets down,’’ Illini coach Bruce Weber said. “We have to get guys playing well again. We’re not playing good basketball. I have to do it. It’s my fault — it’s my program, and I have to get them going.’’

This was Illinois’ first loss in five meetings with Indiana (11-10, 2-6), which played without No. 2 scorer Verdell Jones III (sore right knee) and No.  4 scorer Maurice Creek (surgery Jan. 20 to repair a stress fracture on his right patella).

‘‘I didn’t think we lost any confidence after Ohio State [a 73-68 defeat Saturday],’’ said Weber, bracing for doubts to creep in. ‘‘Now it’s my job to keep them up and keep them going.’’

He may need to start with his three senior anchors.

After dropping two three-balls in the first 61/2 minutes, All-Big Ten guard Demetri McCamey went 0-for-5 the rest of the way and settled for six points — one off the season-low five he posted Saturday against OSU.

‘‘It was same thing as with Ohio State,’’ Weber said. ‘‘When things aren’t open, he can’t just keep going in there. They were clogging it up. He has to make the next pass.’’

Mike Davis (14 points, seven rebounds) did some good things, but he missed a layup with 2:13 left and Illinois leading 49-48.

‘‘He had a couple where we said, ‘Go dunk it. Go to the basket. Get a foul if they contest it,’ ’’ Weber said. “He didn’t do that.’’

Mike Tisdale (eight points, 2-for-10) often was flummoxed by the physical intensity of the Hoosiers. And his turnover with 16 seconds left, when he threw the ball out of bounds, practically looked like intentional grounding.

Though D.J. Richardson and Brandon Paul missed desperate late threes, the Tisdale turnover was pretty much the final nail in the orange-and-blue coffin.

‘‘We went inside to him,’’ Weber said. ‘‘At least put the hook up and give it a chance. I think he saw Jereme [Richmond] slashing to the basket. He overthrew him on the baseline.’’

Though the Illini have a tough second half ahead in Big Ten play, Davis said they’re determined to bounce back.

‘‘It’s tough,’’ he said. ‘‘Sometimes the ball doesn’t drop your way on the road. We have to regroup. We can’t let this linger too long. If we let it linger too long, we’re gonna be in trouble.’’

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