The Illinois Fighting Illini (11-13, 3-8) welcomed the No. 5 Iowa Hawkeyes (19-4, 10-1) to Champaign on Sunday afternoon, but things didn't exactly go according to plan. Jarrod Uthoff and company established an early lead over the Orange and Blue, and proceeded to gain another easy conference win before all was said and done.
Jalen Coleman-Lands led the way for Illinois with 15 points on 5-11 shooting. Iowa's leading scorer was Peter Jok with 23 points.
Coleman-Lands had the hot hand early and was lighting it up from behind the three point line. Iowa managed to counter, though, by generating some easy looks down low and converting at the free-throw line when fouled.
Uthoff can pass a little, too pic.twitter.com/hhSsGHnbOH— Big Ten Geeks (@bigtengeeks) February 7, 2016
Illinois' success from three-point range was quickly overshadowed by countless missed shots from inside the arch. The Fighting Illini started 0/12 from 2PT range, and it took them over 11 minutes to finally log some points from inside the paint. Meanwhile, Iowa's offensive rebounding on the other end was generating several easy second-chance opportunities.
The Hawkeyes entered halftime with a 38-29 over Illinois.
To be honest, I planned to write more on the second half in this space, but things got out of hand so quickly that I pretty much stopped watching to work on the rest of this recap. Here's what we learned from Sunday's game:
1. Maverick Morgan is turning into a good player
Let's start out with a positive! Maverick Morgan certainly isn't an All-Conference type player by any means, but he's been pretty good in his role this year. Entering Sunday's game the six-foot-ten junior was one of Illinois' most efficient offensive players, shooting 58.8% on two-point baskets.
Morgan had 10 points to go along with 7 rebounds today, and did relatively well while guarding Adam Woodbury (several of his baskets came against Michael Finke).
Strange -- it's almost like it takes a few years for post players to become acclimated to the college level.
2. It's time to play Jalen Coleman-Lands at PG
I can't do it anymore, y'all. I can't watch Khalid Lewis and Jaylon Tate do whatever it is they do. No program in the country gets less out of their point guards than Illinois, and it's time for John Groce to make some changes.
Illinois needs to try playing Jalen Coleman-Lands at point guard.
There's a very real possibility that Tracy Abrams could suffer another setback next year and incoming point guard Te'Jon Lucas already has a broken foot. So why not see what you have in Coleman-Lands just in case? Tate and Lewis will still obviously play due to depth issues, but Illinois has literally nothing to lose at this point.
I mean, would you honestly not like to see the following lineup? At the absolute very least, opposing defenses would be forced to guard all five players on the court.
- Jalen Coleman-Lands
- Kendrick Nunn
- Malcolm Hill
- Michael Finke
- Maverick Morgan
TL;DR - Coleman-Lands likely doesn't have any practice experience at point guard, but it can't be any worse than what we already have. Please make the change, coach.
3. Enjoy the Super Bowl
Don't let this Illinois loss ruin your day.
Please enjoy the Super Bowl -- and more importantly the Super Bowl commercials -- tonight with your friends and family.
Illinois Fighting Illini stats
Iowa Hawkeyes stats