Listen, it's going to be hard for me to not turn this entire recap into a diatribe against the Illinois All Access that I paid for in order to watch tonight's game. Now, I don't expect any product to be perfect, but considering I paid $10 for the ability to see tonight's game you would think you'd get something that could work for more than 30 to 45 seconds at a time.
My experience tonight was essentially watching 45 seconds of basketball and then refreshing the page after the feed would freeze. Repeat ad nauseum.
As a result, I really can't give you a great recap of what happened.
What I can tell you is that the Illini got off to a very slow start and looked pretty bad early, trailing McKendree for most of the first half. Some of it was just sloppy play on our part, and some of it was the fact McKendree couldn't miss a three-pointer if it tried to.
But eventually the Bearcats would run out of gas and the Illini would dominate the last 27 minutes or so of the game.
The scariest moment of the game came early when Tracy Abrams hurt his ankle, but he'd return to the game and wind up leading the team with 16 points. Jaylon Tate led the team in minutes with 25 and Joseph Bertrand led the team in rebounds with eight while tying Maverick Morgan for the team lead in blocks with three.
Everybody played and everybody scored, though if there's a reason to be worried it's that the Illini shot only 3-for-18 from three. Of course, just like we can't take anything positive too seriously from a game like this, we shouldn't take anything bad all that seriously either.
All in all the two players I was most impressed with from what I saw were Jaylon Tate and Jon Ekey. The freshman Tate had 13 points, three assists and a steal while sinking six of his eight free throw attempts. Then there was Ekey who had 12 points, six rebounds and a block. Four of Ekey's rebounds came on the offensive end, and I can't help but feel like he's going to be a very useful player this season.
You can see why John Groce has been happy with him in practice.
Other than that, there really isn't all that much to talk about, but it was nice to see this team take the court for the first time to take on another team. Even if I only saw 30 seconds at a time.
Photo of Jaylon Tate courtesy of FightingIllini.com