It's sad that many years from now when somebody sees the score of this basketball game in a media guide or something that they won't truly understand what it was really like. The Illini not only stuffed Northwestern into their lockers but then tossed a grenade in with them.
There was a point in the first half when the score of this game was 19-15 Illinois. There was also a point in this game when it was 45-15 Illinois.
Yep, that's right, from about the three-minute mark of the first half through the 13-minute mark of the second half the Illini went on a 26-0 run. It was outstanding and you really wondered if Northwestern would ever score again.
As for why this game was so easy for the Illini, I think it's somewhat simple. I made the point on Twitter, but I'll rehash it again here.
Northwestern has been devastated by injuries. Well, if you've played any amount of basketball in your life then you've no doubt sprained your ankle at some point. You then were able to play through it after a few minutes of rolling around on the ground in agony, but after you got home and took your shoe off you couldn't even walk. That thing had swollen up to the size of a grapefruit.
Well, when Northwestern had that strong game against Ohio State it was because the Wildcats hadn't taken their shoe off yet. However, after a few days off and allowing that ankle to swell, Northwestern could barely walk against the Illini tonight.
I'd like to think that this was merely a byproduct of Illinois being an amazing basketball team, but the truth is Northwestern's going to get blown out a few more times this season. Hopefully one of those times will be by the Illini again in the Big Ten Tournament.
So while this win was very fun and it helped exorcise some Northwestern demons, I wouldn't get too cocky about it if I were you.
-- We really took care of the ball tonight, which helped overcome some bad shooting. Yeah, the total on the evening was nine turnovers, but the majority of those came late in the game when the Illini were in cruise control.
-- We are suddenly an offensive rebounding powerhouse. After grabbing an astounding 17 offensive rebounds against Purdue, the Illini grabbed 10 more tonight. Though I believe about four of them were Tyler Griffey rebounding his own missed layups. Still count in the stats, though!
-- Another slow night for Brandon Paul. I mentioned in the preview that it would be nice to see Brandon break out of a recent funk, but it didn't happen tonight. Paul finished with only 8 points, though he did stuff the box score in other areas, grabbing 6 rebounds and handing out 5 assists.
-- Tracy Abrams has become damn near automatic from the top of the key.
-- Imagine how much the Illini would have won by if they didn't shoot 30% from three and 53% from the free throw line.
-- D.J. Richardson continues to stroke it. He made eight of his 15 shots tonight -- though only 2-for-7 from three -- to lead the Illini with 18 points. So he's pretty much been Brandon Paul while Brandon Paul has been busy being Sam McLaurin.
Points per possession: 1.01
Turnover rate: 14.7%
Free throw rate: 27.3%
Offensive rebound rate: 37.0%
Points per possession: 0.64
Turnover rate: 21.8%
Free Throw rate: 31.3%
Offensive rebound rate: 16.7%
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