Sorry I'm late.
Billy Packer made an odd but accurate comment during Sunday's game, something like: "Illinois is a great team except that they can't shoot from the perimeter or the foul line." Shooting is an important part of the game, of course, but as I noted in my preview post, Packer is right, essentially. The Illini defend well, rebound well, and take care of the ball. If they could make baskets, they would have won a bunch more games, including Sunday's game. This deficiency also highlights why Illinois wanted Eric Gordon so badly. Win or lose, watching IU play Illinois during the Weber era has been very frustrating. The Illini do a great job of clogging up IU's offense.
Here's the box. The pace? We played the Illini's game, at roughly 62 possessions per team. That means the Hoosiers were at right around one point per possession, which is pretty low for a team averaging much more on the season. It's really uncanny just how similar the two teams' lines were in this game. IU and Illinois posted nearly identical totals in field goals made, field goals attempted, three point shooting, both rebounding categories, and turnovers. IU shot 25 free throws and made 18. Illinois shot 21 free throws and made 13. Really, that was the difference. Illinois took an early lead on the basis of uncharacteristically good shooting to start the game (6-6, and the Illini led 13-4 four minutes into the game). After that start, the Illini shot only 4-19 in the remainder of the first half and 13-43 (31 percent) for the rest of the game. I would love to say that IU's defense was suffocating. The defense was good, but this is a circumstance where stats don't tell the whole story. These guys just cannot shoot.
- Ho hum. DJ White picked up another BTPOW award. After a 22-rebound performance at Michigan, White was his efficient self: 15 points on 9 shots, 5-6 from the line, 10 rebounds (close to a third of Illinois's 32 misses).
- Eric Gordon posted his usual "bad game" totals. Gordon was only 4-10 from the field but was 8-10 from the line and finished with 17 points. Again, too many turnovers (4), but this guy's ability to be productive even on bad shooting nights is what makes him one of the best players in the country.
- Mike White, in 19 minutes, posted a solid line: 4 points on three shots, 6 rebounds (the bad: 0-3 from the line).
- Armon Bassett was excellent in his return to meaningful action: 3-5 from the field including 3-4 from three point range, 11 points.
- Jamarcus Ellis struggled to 1-6 from the field and 3 turnovers.
- Jordan Crawford shot abysmally, four points on 2-8 from the field.
- AJ Ratliff, who has played well in some respects, can't quite find his shot. I'm sure he will.
Like all of IU's three Big Ten wins, IU won despite not playing particularly well. That will have to change Thursday at Minnesota.