The Illini continued their streak of getting behind the 8-ball early last night against Minnesota by starting 1-for-19 from the field and quickly found themselves down 17-2.
It was a Gopher lead that stretched as large as 19 in the first half, but the Illini refused to go down without a fight. Illinois eventually cut the lead down to four in the second half, but were unable to mount the comeback.
Trent Frazier: A
It wasn’t his best performance this year, but it was a solid one nonetheless. The freshman finished with 12 points, six assists, three rebounds, a steal, and just one turnover.
Illini fans are itching for him to crack the starting five.
He is establishing himself as the point guard to stick within Champaign. Te’Jon Lucas has seen his minutes decline significantly since the New Mexico State game, with a season-low 11 minutes last night. Frazier brings a much-needed offensive presence to an otherwise unproductive group. He has shown the ability to get to the rim, find the open man, and step up to knock down a big shot when it feels as if no one else can.
The time has come to #StartTrent.
Greg Eboigbodin: A
What a half for Spicy G! With Leron Black in foul trouble, the freshman found himself right in the mix with some of the best big men in the conference. Eboigbodin held his own and performed better than probably even Brad Underwood thought he would. He scored a career-high nine points, including a pair of dunks, and pulled down three rebounds in his 15 minutes.
Da’Monte Williams: B+
Williams plays a pretty quiet game, but he had his best outing of his career last night in The Barn. He pulled down eight boards, had four steals, three assists, and pitched in six points. The reason he’s on the honor roll and not in the high honors’ club is because he committed a team-high three turnovers. Brad Underwood has praised Da’Monte Williams for being in the right place at the right time, and it showed again last night. He was flying through the air pulling down rebounds against guys who had him by seven, eight or even nine inches. If he can begin to find his shot, he has the potential to be a star on this team.
The Trio of Nichols, Smith, and Jordan: F
A few of the guys who had hot starts to the season have now almost completely fallen off in terms of production. Kipper has seen his share of minutes fall drastically with a season-low seven last night. In his limited action, he was 1-7 from the field, including 0-4 from three, with just a pair of rebounds to go along. Aaron Jordan was 2-10 from the field and just 1-6 from behind the arc had it not been for a triple in the final minute. Finally, Mark Smith scored just four points to go along with a pair of rebounds and a pair of assists in his 20 minutes. With Jordan and Finke’s three-point percentages down and the lack of a presence down low, the Illini could be in for a long conference schedule.
First 12-13 Minutes: F-
I’m not sure the Illini could have had a worse start to the game. Illinois was absolutely ice cold from the floor. They were 1-for-19 to start, including missing their first 12, and went 0-11 to start from behind the arc. That being said, the Illini still found a way to get back into the game and give the Gophers a run for their money.
These incredibly slow starts have plagued Underwood’s squad, yet have failed to knock them out of games entirely. If Illinois can figure out how to start a game, they’re potentially looking at an undefeated record at this point.
The Illini will look to bounce back Saturday at 11 A.M. when they travel to Ann Arbor to take on the Wolverines