BLOOMINGTON, Indiana (Ticker) -- Jeff Newton more than made up for the absence of freshman Bracey Wright.
Newton dominated inside for a career-high 28 points, eight rebounds and five blocks as No. 17 Indiana flexed its muscles in a 74-66 Big Ten Conference victory over eighth-ranked Illinois.
Wright, the team's leading scorer at 19.1 points per game, missed his second straight contest with recurring back problems. But Newton led a parade to the foul line by making 10-of-13 free throws and things difficult for Illinois (12-2, 2-2 Big Ten).
"It was really big for us that Jeff Newton scored 28 points," Indiana coach Mike Davis said. "The point of emphasis the last couple of games was to go inside. For Jeff Newton to come out and score 28 points and play the way he did was big."
Indiana (13-3, 3-1) may have been without one of its three starters at guard, but it had just five turnovers, the second fewest in school history. No Hoosier had more than one.
No other player for Indiana scored in double figures as A.J. Moye and freshman Marshall Strickland each netted nine points. The Hoosiers overcame uncharacteristic 4-of-19 shooting from beyond the arc, partially due to Wright's absence.
"We're winning games right now," Davis said. "We beat the No. 8 basketball team without Bracey Wright. (The) guy's averaging 20 points a game. This is a good basketball team when we play with a lot of energy."
Newton indicated that a call from a former teammate helped inspire him.
"Jared (Jeffries of the Washington Wizards) called me this morning and actually woke me up," Newton said. "He gave me some good advice, though, and told me that it didn't matter if I missed my first 10 shots. He kept telling me to stay focused and determined no matter what. That really helped the intensity out there today."
Indiana took the lead for good midway through the first half and held off a series of runs by the Fighting Illini. Newton's jumper gave the Hoosiers a 60-45 advantage with 8:50 remaining.
A layup by Roger Powell pulled Illinois within 70-66 with 25 seconds left, but he missed a chance at a three-point play and Donald Perry and Newton each made two free throws to seal the win.
"I don't think we should pat our guys on the back because we played until the end," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "I think that should be a given. But it comes down to when the ball is in the air, who is going to get it and Indiana whipped us there."
Newton made 9-of-17 shots for Indiana, which held a 47-38 edge on the glass. Kyle Hornsby added a season-high 10 rebounds.
"I felt that I blocked out pretty well," Hornsby said. "I'm not the kind of player that can fly in and jump over people, so I had to get position."
The Fighting Illini jumped to an 11-4 lead before the Hoosiers took control with a 16-3 run to take the lead for good. The early action featured several blocks by Newton and one by Moye on Powell.
Newton also helped on the defensive end against Brian Cook, a Big Ten co-Preseason Player of the Year. Cook scored 15 points on 7-of-17 shooting and fouled out with less than five minutes remaining. Illinois freshman forward James Augustine also fouled out.
"Their big guys after they blocked a couple shots early had our guys thinking about where they were all the time," Self said. "Brian in particular. We got the ball to him a lot of times in positions where he delivered all year and we came away with nothing."
Indiana shot 73 percent (24-of-33) at the line as Moye, Perry and George Leach combined to convert 12-of-15 attempts. It offset a horrific day from the floor for guards Hornsby and Tom Coverdale, who were 3-of-17 for a total of seven points.
Freshman Dee Brown led Illinois with 18 points and five assists and center Nick Smith added 13 points off the bench. The Fighting Illini shot 39 percent (24-of-61) and missed 7-of-17 foul shots.
Indiana's Sean Kline, who had been in Davis' doghouse for poor play in practice, made all three shots for six points off the bench.