Boy, was it nice to close out a game or what? Illinois has lacked the “killer instinct”, but it was nice to see them keep their foot on the gas and take a game from “still possible to choke it away” to “I might actually feel bad for Rutgers.” It’ll be interesting to see if this team can continue to string together multiple wins now that they have a few under their belt. The Illini will have several days to prepare for the Buckeyes as they travel to Columbus. First, let’s check out some of the grades from last night.
Deron In Attendance: A+
Now, I’m not saying this is why Illinois won, but I’m also not saying this isn’t not why they won. Regardless, if Brad Underwood needs Deron to be at every game for his team to play like that, I’m sure he wouldn’t mind tossing him an assistant position. Williams spoke highly of both Brad Underwood and Josh Whitman, a sure sign that this program and university is under the right leadership.
Equal Playing Time: A+
It looked like rec league hoops out there Tuesday night with 10 guys getting double-digit minutes and four more seeing the floor, including the walk-ons. We all love to see those players get action in blow-outs. It’s usually Illinois on the other end of the spanking, however.
Trent Frazier: A
Momma, there goes that man. Trent has been en fuego lately. The freshman is averaging 17.7 points over the course of the last six games. He pitched in 17 points Tuesday, including five three-pointers in the first half, three rebounds, and four assists in just 19 minutes. Is this the Illini fanbase being repaid for all those years spent under John Groce? If so, I don’t mind it.
Kipper Nichols: A
Make that five out of the last six halves where Kipper has come to play. He’s played a large part in the last two wins and the effort against Michigan State, but the question is, can he continue to play like this? He gave the Illini 19 points, six rebounds, three steals, a block, and an assist against Rutgers. Consistency has been the issue for Nichols though, so we’ll see what Sunday brings.
Everyone Else: A
I’m sure that I could find someone to pick on, but it was such an overall impressive performance that we’ll end this article on a good note as well. Everyone got to play, Mark Smith (almost) had a lob to Matic Vesel, the starters all finished in double digits. It was almost all around great basketball. The turnovers were an issue in the first half, but the team also led by almost 20 at the break. High honors for everyone this game*!
*Underwood’s blazer was phenomenal. Mrs. Underwood can continue to prep Coach in whatever she wants as long as the team continues to win.