Well that performance certainly wasn't easy to watch. The Illinois Fighting Illini (9-9, 1-4) couldn't capitalize on their recent victory over a ranked Purdue squad, as they fell to the Nebraska Cornhuskers (11-8, 3-3) by a final of 78-67 in Champaign. Nebraska guard Andrew White III led all scorers with 21 points; Malcolm Hill contributed a team-high 17 points for Illinois.
Though Illinois managed to battle back towards the end, it was fairly obvious this game was going to end as a loss from the get-go. The Illini had absolutely no swagger on the court this afternoon, and that was made abundantly clear by their defensive effort. Nebraska shot 53.6% from the field and outscored Illinois 34-20 in the paint thanks to a seemingly countless number of uncontested layups.
Here are some things we learned from Saturday's game:
Probably could've used Glynn Watson!
Yes, hindsight is 20/20. Yes, Illinois was going after some other realistic point guard options at the time. But holy shit would Glynn Watson Jr. look fantastic in an Illinois uniform right now. The St. Joseph high school product had the best game of his career on Saturday by accounting for 17 PTS (7-13 FG), 3 REB, and 1 AST. Meanwhile, Illini point guards Jaylon Tate and Khalid Lewis combined for 5 PTS, 5 REB, and 5 AST.
The fact that Watson is the younger half-brother of former Illini star Demetri McCamey only makes this a tougher pill to swallow. I'm looking forward to him (and Ed Morrow!) terrorizing us for the next four years.
Tim Miles, Master Troll
Now this is some high quality trolling by Miles here. Expert level really. https://t.co/f8Jn7LQ7EW— John Brumbaugh (@IlliniBoard) January 16, 2016
Illinois probably won't make the NIT
Barring a surprise Big Ten Tournament run, the Illini will absolutely not be making the the 2016 NCAA Tournament -- we already knew that, though. But now the consolation prize, if you will, is starting to become more and more doubtful. The NIT eliminated the .500 record requirement in 2006, but a team below that threshold has still never been named to the field of 32 teams. That means Illinois will need to go at least 7-7 the rest of the way in order to be realistically considered.
Do you see seven more wins on the remaining schedule? I sure don't.
Illinois Fighting Illini Stats
Nebraska Cornhuskers Stats
The Illini will be back in action on Tuesday to face the Indiana Hoosiers (15-3, 5-0) in Bloomington. The early KenPom projections have given Illinois a 12% chance of winning, and predicts the final score to be 85-71 in favor of Indiana. So, yea, that'll surely be another fun game.