The Illini dropped their final home game of the season to Purdue 93-86. It was a hard fought battle for a team that was completely undersized and frankly, had no business being in that game whatsoever. Lucas and Black kept it close in the first half, and for the first time in eons, Illinois put together 40 minutes of fairly drought-less basketball.
There was a lot to be proud of if you’re Brad Underwood after that performance. The Boilermakers matched up far too well against us with an array of sharpshooting guards and top-tier big men. However, the team never threw in the towel and really made Matt Painter’s guys work for the win.
- Leron Black - He has been on an absolute tear through this stretch of games. Last night was his fourth straight 20-plus point game, and he did it against guys five, six, seven inches taller than him. He finished the night with 28, three rebounds, and a couple assists.
- Taking Care of the Ball - Illinois’ six turnovers last night were tied for their second-fewest all year. In order to make games competitive with better teams, cutting down on silly mistakes is a big key. Limiting these turnovers has been an issue all season especially with so many freshmen and inexperienced upperclassmen.
- Keeping PU’s Frontcourt In Check - If you would’ve told me before the game that Purdue wins with Isaac Haas and Matt Harms combining for just three field goals, I would’ve told you that you’re absolutely insane. Michael Finke, Greg Eboigbodin, Kipper, Leron, everyone did a great job on these two last night. This was a huge part of what kept Illinois in the game.
- Raining From Deep - The Illini had one of their best shooting nights from beyond the arc in over a month. A couple unlikely characters, Te’Jon Lucas and Da’Monte Williams combining for 6-6, led the attack from three. Everything looks prettier when shots are falling. The offense flows better, the paint opens up for Leron to go to work, and most importantly, it’s one less thing that Brad has to yell about. :)
- Trent’s Second Half - We might be talking about an Illinois win right now, if we could’ve had two halves from Trent and not just one. He’s been stellar all season, and he backed it up again with a 20-point, six assist outing. The future of the Illinois frontcourt is uncertain right now, but the backcourt is sure to be something special.
- Free Throw Discrepancy - It’s been an issue throughout the conference season, and it’s been the difference in many games. I don’t want to say that it was the sole reason for the loss, but shooting 21 less free throws than your opponent never helps. Getting to the line should be a priority in the offseason for Brad Underwood and his guys.
- Carsen Edwards - It was a career-high night for the sophomore guard. A 25-point second half paced Edwards to a 40-point, five rebound, and three assist game. Not only did he get to the line, but he cashed in on it too, going 14-16. A 40 piece in the box score isn’t super surprising, I am surprised that it didn’t come from Isaac Haas though.