In a season that has been far from what many Illini fans expected, Leron Black has been one of the points of pride for Underwood’s team. Against Wisconsin, he had a team-high 16 points. The stat that matters most? It was on 7-for-9 shooting.
Leron is the only reason they didn’t lose by 30 points on Friday.
Getting Out Thrown
At one time, Illinois was near the top of the nation in free throws made per game. On Friday, they again found themselves on the wrong side of that statistic. Just like in the Iowa game, the Badgers had 21 free throws in the game to Illinois’ seven.
You can’t win games with a roster like the Illini have when you cannot get double-digit free throws. Wisconsin, another beatable team, simply made Illinois look silly.
Let me reiterate: Wisconsin is far from the cream of the crop in the Big Ten, as the program has been recently. In their past three games, the Badgers scored 50, 59 and 60 points. They had 43 in the first half against Illinois.
Underwood decided he wanted to double Ethan Happ, which did limit him to an extent, but Wisconsin shooters made their shots when they needed to. And there were plenty of layups and back cuts that led to easy baskets.
Illinois has not had a good year from beyond-the-arc. For the entire game, the Illini made one three-pointer.
This is not a typo.
They were 1-of-14 from the field. Wisconsin was 4-of-6 in the first half alone, but only made seven for the game. Between three-pointers and free throws, the game was already out of hand, save turnovers and easy Badger baskets.
Getting a little Spicy
Greg Eboigbodin is certainly not perfect yet, or anywhere close, but he is one player improving quicker than anyone expected.
He had another good night on offense on Friday, notching eight points on 4-of-5 shooting. What stood out to me was his three blocks on defense. They weren’t necessarily momentum-changers, but that’s something Illinois has been missing for a few years.
Get this team a true big man, let these freshmen develop, and there is something special brewing in Champaign.