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“We have to score. We have to make a few more plays. We have to make more shots,” Groce said. “As coaches, we’ve got to look at what type of quality of shot we get. I think there’s been some games where we’ve had some good ones. I thought our quality of shot tonight was not great late.”

The result: Indiana wound up with a split in the season series and Illinois failed to take its first lead in the all-time series since 1975.

It wasn’t just tough for the Illini.

Indiana shot 40.8 percent and had 13 turnovers. But the difference was Ferrell’s ability to create his own shots or draw defenders away to open up his teammates.

Indiana, which led almost the entire first half, suddenly found itself trailing 29-28 after the Illini scrambled to gain control of a loose ball and swung the ball to a wide open Jon Ekey for a 3-pointer with 17:37 left.

That’s when the Ferrell kicked his game into high gear.

He hit a short runner, a 17-foot jumper and split a double team with a nifty crossover move to score on a layup. After that, he drove and dished to Will Sheehey for an open 3, and ended the 12-0 run with his own 3 to give Indiana its biggest lead of the game, 40-29, with 12:58 to go.

“I thought him getting to the foul line was huge,” Groce said. “I thought he made a big 3 against our zone. We’ve got to do a better job of defending without fouling. It’s easier said than done with him because he puts a lot of pressure on you probing with the dribble, and he’s a really good player.”

Illinois wasn’t close to being finished.

The Illini went on a 10-2 run to get within 42-39, but the Hoosiers answered with six straight and kept Illinois at arm’s length the rest of the way.

Fittingly, it was Ferrell who sealed it by making six straight free throws and poking the ball away on Illinois’ final possession of the game.

“We earned that victory today,” Crean said. “Illinois is a very good team and these games come down to just a couple of possessions.”