CHAMPAIGN - The Orange Krush taunted Indiana star Marco Killingsworth as he shot free throws Sunday.
"Killingsworth-less! Killingsworth-less!" chanted Illinois' rowdy orange-clad student section.
When the 14th-ranked Illini had finished off Indiana 70-58 at the Assembly Hall, it was the home team's front line that proved its worth. In the process, Illinois kept pace with the rest of the Big Ten Conference leaders heading into the final two weeks of the regular season.
James Augustine posted his ninth double-double of the season, leading the Illini with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Augustine and the rest of Illinois' "bigs" shot 20 of 29 from the field to offset a cold-shooting performance from guards Dee Brown and Rich McBride (5 of 20, 3 of 13 from 3-point range).
Illinois (22-4) moved into a second-place tie in the Big Ten with Wisconsin and Ohio State at 8-4, just a half-game behind Iowa. There is no rest for the Illini, who fly to Michigan today for a game against the Wolverines at 6 p.m. Tuesday before entertaining Iowa in the home finale Saturday.
The Illini's hopes for a third straight Big Ten title seemed dash at this time last week after losses to Penn State and Ohio State.
If Augustine and his front-line friends can come close to their effort Sunday during the next two weeks, winning another crown doesn't seem so far-fetched.
"We're doing a much better job the last couple games getting some inside touches," said Illinois coach Bruce Weber. "Now if we mix in some good 3-point shooting down the stretch run maybe we can get involved in the race."
Illinois' Brian Randle added 12 points, including a spectacular dunk over Killingsworth, and five rebounds. Warren Carter came off the bench to play a career-high 25 minutes, scoring nine points.
Shaun Pruitt made all three of his shots from eight points, while reserve Marcus Arnold also had a couple baskets.
"We wanted to be more active and take pressure off Dee. Dee's energy has carried us," said Augustine. "We wanted to come out with energy and hit the boards."
The 6-foot-8, 268-pound Killingsworth terrorized the Illini for 23 points and 12 rebounds in the Hoosiers' 62-60 victory on Jan. 17. Killingsworth was quiet for most of Sunday's game, finishing with 15 points (5 of 11 shooting) and six rebounds.
Illinois outscored Indiana 40-22 in the paint and grabbed a 37-25 rebounding advantage.
Indiana (13-10, 5-7) lost its fifth straight game, falling further out of range for the NCAA Tournament. Sunday was the Hoosiers' first game after Coach Mike Davis announced three days ago he was resigning at the end of the season.
"The key to the game, and we all talked since Mike resigned, was how they would react," said Weber. "I told our guys we needed a good start and a lot of energy and enthusiasm. That would nullify any emotional edge. We did that and got the crowd into it."
A "Paint the Hall Orange" sellout crowd of 16,618 got revved up when Illinois took control early. In a 10-minute stretch, the Illini went on a 22-4 run to take a commanding 27-10 lead with 7:59 left until halftime. Indiana went 2 of 12 and committed seven turnovers during that decisive period.
"We knew they would get off to a great start. We missed a lot of easy opportunities," said Davis. "We missed some layups we probably should have made and some wide-open shots."
Randle gave the Illini their biggest lead of the game at 34-16 and really pumped up the crowd. He drove in from the left wing and slammed a one-handed dunk, getting fouled by Killingsworth.
"I did watch the NBA dunk contest (Friday)," said Randle. "Andre Iguodala was something else, I have to say that. I guess it just comes when it comes. It's not something you plan."
Indiana cut the deficit to 38-25 at halftime. Carter made two free throws with 12:09 left to put Illinois ahead 53-36. While the Illini never completely closed out the Hoosiers - struggling offensively at times against a zone - the closest Indiana got was 65-55 with 1:19 left.
While Brown didn't shoot well, he contributed five rebounds and four assists to go with 10 points. The scariest moment for Illinois came when Brown and Augustine were on the bench with four fouls each, but Indiana couldn't capitalize.
"For our morale we played great as a team. Coach said in the locker room we're one step away from taking it up another notch," said Augustine. "There weren't very many letdowns."
Neither team shot well outside the arc. The perimeter-oriented Hoosiers went 4 of 22, while Illinois was 3 of 17. Indiana shot 35.7 percent overall, while the Illini hit 50 percent.
Davis, who never won in four games as Indiana coach here, wasn't hanging his head afterwards.
"I saw some guys fighting harder than they normally fight," he said. "This was a tough game to play after last week. For us to able to come in here and not collapse … Illinois definitely controlled the basketball game, but I thought our guys fought hard."
The Illini played without one of their best shooters. Freshman Jamar Smith was suited up but stayed on the bench after "not taking care of business," said Weber. Earlier in the season, Carter and Chester Frazier sat out for the same reason.
"It was a learning lesson for him," said Weber, who added Smith will play at Michigan. "He certainly could have helped against the zone, I know that, but it allowed Chester to play a couple minutes (15). Maybe in the long run it will be a good thing for us."