The first loss of the season always sucks, but it sucks even more when it's against Mizzou.
Well, we're not going to go undefeated this year, folks. The dream is over. It died in St. Louis against those bastards to the west, as Missouri proved to just be too much for the Illini inside the paint.
It's a problem we've known about since before the season, and it's a problem I thought would cost us a win in Gonzaga. But on Saturday night in the Scottrade Center our lack of size finally caught up to us. Missouri point guard Phil Pressey missed his first 15 shots of the night, but it didn't matter. All he had to do was penetrate and dish to Laurence Bowers and Alex Oriakhi.
Mizzou's big men combined for 36 points and 21 rebounds as Pressey finished the night with 12 points and 10 assists.
The other thing we've known about our Illini all season was that when the shots don't fall, this team is going to have a tough time. Tonight the shots didn't fall. The Illini shot 33.8% from the floor and only 25% from three.
Frankly it's amazing they were even able to stay in this game for the first 38 minutes given Mizzou's dominance down low and our inability to make shots. It's a testament to this team's attitude and will -- and this coaching staff -- that we could have won this game.
That's why, in spite of the loss, I'm not upset. We played a bad game against a really good team and we almost won. That's a reason to be optimistic about Big Ten play if I've ever seen one.
After beating Gonzaga in Spokane and hanging with Mizzou on an off night, there's nobody in the Big Ten we can't beat if we play well. Nobody.
-- Nnanna Egwu had a career-high of 12 points, and it was great to see. He looked very good in the first half before somewhat disappearing in the second half. On offense anyway. Still, while it's nice to see Egwu contribute on offense, if he's going to outscore D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams -- a combined 11 points -- we aren't going to win very often.
-- Tracy Abrams' foul trouble was a killer. When he left the court for most of the first half, and when he was off the court in general, the offense seemed a bit lost. Both Brandon Paul and Joseph Bertrand seemed to revert to hero mode more often than not, which is great when you're making the shots. They weren't for the most part. When it wasn't Bertrand or Paul going iso, we were rushing into shots.
-- We hit our free throws! We weren't bad at everything.
-- What Tyler Griffey gives us on offense he has a tendency to give away on the other end. Listen, I love when Tyler is confident on offense and isn't afraid to take shots. He can hit them. What bothers me is when he goes back on defense and leaves the confidence on the other end of the court. There were numerous times he got lost on defense in this game. He's not a man-to-man defender, but I think sometimes he's even worse in zone.
-- D.J Richardson will want to burn this game tape. 3-for-13 from the floor, 1-for-9 from three. Woof.