These are the games that are a lot more fun to write about than the ones like that Georgia Tech loss. Though just because they're more fun doesn't mean they're easier to write.
Because, honestly, where the hell do I even start?
The Illini jumped out to an early lead even though they were playing a little sloppy on the offensive end. And things would stay that way because the Illini missed less shots than Auburn made in this game. Seriously. It felt like every shot the Illini threw up was going in because most of them were and at halftime the Illini had a 41-17 lead.
It was insane.
Now, Auburn outscored the Illini in the second half 45-40, which John Groce will be thrilled about because it'll give him something to correct and coaches always love having reasons to teach their players. Still, it'll be hard for Groce to be angry about this one.
Generally when you shoot 61.5% from the floor and 52.2% from three, things went pretty damn well. Though not everything.
-- The one thing I know Groce will be harping about? Turnovers. The Illini had 14 of them today, and the freshmen were to blame for most of them. Maverick Morgan, Malcolm Hill, Kendrick Nunn and, yes, Jaylon Tate, all combined for nine turnovers between them today. With each of them committing at least two and Hill committing three. TEACHABLE MOMENTS FOR THE YOUNGINS.
-- Auburn brings out the best in Tracy Abrams. It wasn't quite the same game he had in Chicago last year, but it was far and away Tracy's best game of the season offensively. He finished 7-for-10 from the floor with 17 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals. A little bit of that ol' regression to the mean. Let's hope it continues.
-- Mentioned after the last game how Jon Ekey had struggled in our first two road games of the season. Well, not today. Today Ekey finished with 14 points and six rebounds while shooting 4-for-6 from three.
-- The sun rises in the east, sets in the west, and in between Rayvonte Rice leads the Illini in scoring. He had 22 points tonight as he shot 8-for-12 from the field.
-- Only two members of the team shot worse than 50% today. Malcolm Hill was 1-for-5 and Mike LaTulip was 0-for-1. That's it. Everyone else was at 50% or higher, and everybody else played and took at least two shots.
-- Speaking of guys who took two shots, as well as the Illini played, Nnanna Egwu wasn't much of a factor at all. He finished with two points, a rebound, a steal a block and two fouls. A big reason for this was just because he wasn't needed on offense as the shots were falling. Joseph Bertrand was pretty quiet as well, finishing with seven points and only one rebound.
-- He didn't play a ton of minutes, but I think today was Kendrick Nunn's best day as an Illini. On both ends.
Points per poss: 1.28
eFG%: 73.1% (!!!!!!!!)
Turnover rate: 22.1%
OR rate: 26.3%
FT rate: 9.6%
Points per poss: 1.01
Turnover rate: 21.1%
OR rate: 35.3%
FT rate: 34.6%