Player of the Game: Trent Frazier
Illinois trailed by as many as 22 to Maryland in the second half before falling short in overtime.
The starters put the team in a 10-0 hole after the first media timeout, and Underwood brought in five fresh faces to try and remedy the situation. It was a total team effort to claw all the way back from the early deficit, but the bench stopped the bleeding momentarily in the first half, and sparked the second-half comeback. Black and Alstork had key second halves for the Illini, and Aaron Jordan continued to light it up from three.
Arguments could be made for any of the players mentioned above, but Trent Frazier wins player of the game honors for his performance last night. Frazier had an impressive line with 11 points, seven assists, four rebounds, two steals with only one turnover in 28 minutes. The Illini only had eight assists as a team against Northwestern. Seven assists is also a single-game high for any Illini player this season.
Frazier supplanted Lucas early in the game and never let go of the reigns. Frazier played 28 minutes compared to Lucas’ 14. Frazier was the head of the snake for the Illini and their comeback against Maryland. Alstork and Frazier brought tremendous defensive pressure in the second half forcing 15 second half Terrapin turnovers.
Most importantly, Frazier did a terrific job of pushing the ball in the second half. He wasted no time getting into transition and had success driving to the rim, shooting 5-7 on two pointers on Sunday night. Frazier’s speed and athleticism was on full display and he put a great deal of pressure on Maryland on both ends of the floor.
Frazier still struggled from the three-point line. He went 0-for-5 last night, dropping his percentage on the season to 13.7 percent. Hopefully, some of those three-pointers will start to fall for Frazier. When they do, his combination of shooting and speed will be a tough cover for all Big Ten opponents.
This was a heartbreaking loss for Illinois; there isn’t a good way to sugarcoat it. However, this team was down 22 and came back to take the lead, and they were led by a freshmen point guard. This team is going to fight for its coach and school all year. And this team is going to make us all fall in love them, if only to break our hearts in the short term. But that’s what Illinois basketball is all about.
We are seeing flashes of greatness from young players.
All aboard the Underwood Express, buckle up.