Illinois pushed Michigan throughout the first half, before ultimately fell flat in the second on its way to a 79-69 home loss. The game wasn’t all bad, but it certainly wasn’t good enough for the Illini to come close to pulling off the upset. Let’s start with the positives.
The freshman guard is starting to be a regular bright spot for the Illini in what has otherwise been a dreary season. Ayo showed out on both offense and defense against one of the best teams in the nation.
Although it’s a good problem to have, it certainly doesn’t seem like Ayo might be in Champaign much longer. Dosunmu posted a line of 23 points and 7 rebounds, to go along with 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
Illinois shot reasonably well from beyond the arc against Michigan, as the Illini hit on 7-of-18 three point attempts (39%). This was a substantial improvement over the previous conference matchup against Northwestern, when the Illini shot an abysmal 0-11. Trent Frazier led the charge in this department by going 3-for-5 from deep against the Wolverines.
Free throw shooting
The Illini haven’t been great from the charity stripe all year, but this game brought Illinois to a new low by going just 4-7 on the evening. On the other side, Michigan posted a healthy 18-22 (82%) from the line.
Regardless of the opposition’s talent level, Illinois won’t win many games by sending its opponents to the foul line that often. Cutting down on the fouls is an absolute must, and it’s been a priority for some time now. The coaching staff must figure out how to limit the fouls — and draw more of them — for the Illini to be competitive.
Non-starters provided six points for the Illini. It goes without saying that the team can’t afford to receive such minimal production from their depth players going forward. To be fair, Michigan only received 11 points from its non-starters, but the Wolverines can get away with it because the production from their starting five makes up for it.
Da’Monte Williams, Andres Feliz and Adonis De La Rosa must find ways to contribute more during their minutes on the court.
Underwood’s jacket toss
Frustration can get the best of any coach or player, and Brad Underwood let it all out as he was issued a technical foul for throwing his jacket in the first half.
On the one hand, a 10-point loss to the No. 2 team in the nation doesn’t seem like something to be too ashamed of. And I would agree if this were any ordinary Illini team.
Unfortunately, when the team is standing at 4-12, it’s hard to see much light at the end of the tunnel after this latest conference loss.
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