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Illinois vs. Purdue Final: Right Now, We're Just Not Too Good

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Purdue's A.J. Hammons out-rebounded and out-toughed every Illini player on the floor tonight as the Boilermakers edged out the Illini, 66-58.

Bradley Leeb-USA TODAY Sports

I'm going to keep this recap quick. I won't rant. If you're craving anger and resignation, get on Twitter and search "Nnanna," "Groce," "Ekey,"  or "Illinois." You'll find your fix there, full of quick snippets about how the season is over.

I'll stay away from that because I emptied the tanks after the Northwestern loss. What need is there to rant, when the answers to every question are vividly clear:

JOHN GROCE HAS A TEAM WITH SEVEN NEW PLAYERS. It shows, constantly. When we hit a rough patch, nobody can push us through it. When we finally find momentum, a single mistake derails the whole thing. There's no fluidity. Most of the time, it's a struggle.

NOTES

- Malcolm Hill summed up the play of the freshman tonight. At their peak, they'll knock down a bucket and drive to the lane, smoothly and gracefully. And on the next two possessions, they'll throw the ball away with panic. Not one of them is ready to contribute.

- Nnanna Egwu vs. A.J. Hammons tonight will be the most one-sided big man matchup in the Big Ten this season. For a brief stint in the second half, Nnanna forced a jumpball and had a block. He contributed. Two minutes later, Hammons again imposed his will to the point of Egwu embarrassment. He's playing terrible basketball, he knows it, and it's hard to watch him move around, unable to figure it out. He's clearly uncomfortable on the basketball court. Hammons won Purdue the game and Nnanna watched him do it, as helpless as I was from the other side of the television.

- Tracy Abrams continues to do his thing. He's tough and if this season has any juice left to it, it'll be because of Tracy and Rayvonte Rice.

John Groce let some emotions pour out in his postgame press conference. It's the angry reaction I was hoping to see after the Northwestern loss, but I'm thrilled to see it now. (via Big Ten Network)

Illinois needs a win. It doesn't matter who it's against or what it means to the future, or resume, or whatever. They just need to win. End this skid because boy, is it ugly.

Unfortunately our next five games are against Michigan St., @Ohio St. @Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Next Game: Illinois Fighting Illini vs. Michigan St. Spartans - Saturday, Jan. 18 - 7:00 p.m.