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Illinois 96, Augustana 62: What we learned

Illinois handled D-III Augustana without any drama on Thanksgiving eve.

NCAA Basketball: DePaul at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Illinois is off to a 5-0 start after defeated D-III Augustana at home. Here’s the top takeaways.

1. Augustana is certainly a D-III School

Augustana, from Rock Island, Illinois, is one of the better D-III schools in the nation. They made it to the National Title game last season and finished D-III runners-up.

That being said, Augustana sure looked like a D-III team playing a major conference D-I squad. Augie made 29 turnovers, and it gave up 36 points off those turnovers. They were sloppy with the ball and struggled to get shots off all night, only attempting 46 field goals compared to Illinois’ 68.

This was always going to be a loss for them. They are still a great program and we wish them all the best going forward.

That being said, Illinois looked how they should against a side like this, but there were still times where Brad Underwood was unhappy with the performance. He subbed out every starter early in the second half. Underwood demands intensity at all times for his players. We will see if they have the stamina to keep it up all season.

2. Nineteen assists on 32 field goals

Illinois moved the ball around well. The Illini had an assist on nearly sixty percent of their makes. Te’Jon Lucas had his best game of the year with six assist while Mark Alstork provided five. When Illinois moves the ball like this, everyone is a threat to score. Five Illini were in double figures.

This team is unselfish and seems to not care who scores as long as the ball is going through the net.

3. Michael Finke, have a game

Michael Finke had his second career double-double for Illinois leading all scorers with 20 points on 7-11 shooting with three made three pointers to go with 10 rebounds. Finke was a strong presence all night and was high efficient on offense, finishing with a 26.0 efficiency rating — efficiency is calculated by the following formula (points + rebounds + assist + steals + blocks - missed FG - missed FT - turnovers).

Illinois will heavily lean on Finke this year as their primary big man. There aren’t many good bench options to defend the post, so Finke will play heavy minutes in Big Ten play.

His ability to shoot the three does wonders for Illinois’ spacing on offense, but Finke also showed tonight he is more than a stretch big man with his strong offensive rebounding. It’s was only against Augustana, but Finke is off to a promising start to 2017-18.