Illinois lost to Nebraska 64-63 on a buzzer beater three point shot by James Palmer Jr. to fall to 10-9 (0-6). Illinois hasn’t won a Big Ten conference game since March 1, 2017, and hasn’t recorded a conference win in either Men’s Basketball or Football in the academic year.
These aren’t fun times in Illini Land to say the least. Here are some top takeaways from the loss to Nebrasketball.
1. Yep, another heartbreaking, close loss
Luck is a strange thing. In reality it’s just randomness and odds, but the feelings that come from what happens is what we call luck. If someone goes on a roll on the craps table, they aren’t lucky. They just happened to beat the odds multiple times. Same goes for when someone hits on a sixteen in blackjack, and gets a five. It’s just randomness and chance, not luck, because luck in reality, doesn’t exist. It’s all just randomness and chance.
But damn, if it’s hard to not think this Illinois team is unlucky. Illinois lost another, yes another, heartbreaker in conference play to fall to 0-6. It was the second game that Illinois has lost by a single point, but this time it hurt so much worse.
When Finke converted a four-point play with six seconds left, it felt that the basketball gods — spoiler alert: also don’t exist — would finally favor the Illini. But no. The randomness of basketball once again went against the Illini.
This has been a painful basketball season for the Illini and their fans to say the least. Will Leitch summed it up best.
This better all be worth it someday. https://t.co/yQQy7TEEEi— Will Leitch (@williamfleitch) January 16, 2018
2. More late turnovers
With 1:38 left in the game, Illinois only trailed by two points, and had a good chance to tie the game and even take the lead. On two straight offensive possessions, Da’monte Williams commited a turnover.
Late turnovers have been a huge issue for Illinois late in games. Since Illinois did comeback and take the lead after this, it’s hard to blame these turnovers directly for the loss. But, if Illinois scores a basket to tie the game with 1:20 or so left, who knows what could have happened in that alternative reality.
It’s beyond just “freshman mistakes” or the team needing to “learn how to win” — did someone not tell the team to win you need to not make dumb plays?
The mental mistakes made late in games are crippling to the Illini, and they will continue to be for the remainder of the schedule unless something finally changes.
3. Fantastic game on the glass for Illinois
On a more positive note, Illinois dominated the game on the glass. The Illini outrebounded the Huskers 46-29. The rebounding help Illinois stay in the game despite a dreadfully slow start by the offense by limiting the possessions for Nebraska. The Huskers only had 6 offensive rebounds in the contest.
Illinois had 18 offensive rebounds, which is fantastic. Well, that is until you realize that these offensive rebounds didn’t lead to much as Illinois only collected 14 second-chance points.
4. One of the worst three-point shooting games you will see
I’ve seen some bad three point shooting games in my day, but I can’t recall seeing one as bad as this last game. Nebraska and Illinois combined to shoot 8-of-41 from deep (19.5 percent). Not only were both team’s missing, both teams had several ugly shots and air balls, especially down the stretch.
The shooting from both squads was an affront to Dr. Naismith. May we never see it again.