The Illini suffered their second straight loss last night after some poor execution down the stretch. Illinois was given multiple opportunities, but failed to capitalize before the “Te’Jon Lucas” offense finally ran out of gas.
Mark Alstork: A-
This was by far the best game Brad Underwood has gotten out of the graduate transfer this season. Alstork followed up his solid start against Wake Forest with a better showing against Northwestern. He was a perfect 6-6 from the line, pulled down six rebounds, collected two steals, and totaled 14 points in his 40 minutes of action. The Illini will need more games like this from Alstork if they want to be successful this season.
Te’Jon Lucas: B+
The sophomore found himself in a position that he hasn’t seen before in an Illini uniform. With stagnant offense late in the game and nothing really clicking, it was Lucas getting to the basket and scoring for the Illini when they needed him. He finished with a career-high 14 points, but back-to-back missed free throws and a blocked shot on the final possession really hurt Illinois.
Aaron Jordan: B
The biggest surprise to this season has been Aaron Jordan and it’s not close. The junior was a perfect 5-5 from the free throw line last night and knocked down the only three he took. He finished with 10 points, one board, and a steal. Foul trouble limited his minutes, but Illinois needs to find a way to get the nation’s leader in three-point percentage more looks from deep.
Michael Finke: F
Back-to-back losses and back-to-back terrible outings for Finke. He failed to convert on any of his three field goals in 32 minutes. He finished with just two points and four rebounds. Illinois will need the production he provided the first six games of the season, or the frontcourt woes we thought the Illini had could get much, much worse.
Execution Late: F-
This is a team with no leadership and no go-to guy, and last night couldn’t have made that more evident. There were questions before the season about who would get the ball late. Would it be a newcomer like Mark Alstork or Mark Smith? Certainly no one thought it would be Te’Jon Lucas. Including the last 4:38 of the second half and five minutes of overtime, Illinois had just three made baskets, and scored just seven points. Execution like that won’t win any games for the Illini.