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Indiana: The Good, the Bad, the Ugly

Illinois’ third conference loss was complete with a scoring drought AND a fake rally.

NCAA Basketball: Illinois at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Good

First half

Holy cow, a tie ballgame! Illinois was doing what it had been expected to do coming into this year. Move the ball, score quickly, and cause a few turnovers. At least, that’s how it was for a while.

Illinois had a pretty solid half and was tied 32-32 going into the locker rooms. Indiana only shot 13 percent from beyond the arc in the first half (is that the first time that’s ever happened?) and the Illini bench outscored the Indiana bench 8-0. Andres Feliz only had three points but had a nice showing in the first half, too.

Ayo Dosunmu

Dosunmu had another very solid night, leading the team with 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He also had a nice three-pointer as the Illini were making the Hoosiers just a little uncomfortable with under five minutes left in the game.

He continues to impress with his length and effort on defense, and I’ll take 4-of-6 from the three-point line any day of the week. Plus three assists, three boards, and just one turnover. Nice job for the guy from Chicago.

Giorgi

This dude is good. His footwork is better than any post player Illinois has had in a while (not that this is saying a whole lot) and that makes me excited. It’s pretty clear to me that whatever dance lessons this kid took when he was younger have done wonders for him. Giorgi B finished the day with 18 points and also recorded seven boards.

I saw him a few times contest some shots at the rim, which really impressed me. Juwan Morgan bullied him down low, but I think much of that comes from Morgan’s experience and ability to throw his weight around. With time, Giorgi can hopefully improve on the post defense.

The Bad

Shot clock violations

There was a four-minute span in the second half where all the Illini really only seemed to do was turn the ball over on a bad pass into the paint or get locked down by the Indiana defense. Not ideal, as they say. For the game, Illinis had 21 turnovers, with Giorgi leading the pack with five — even though he was caught in a few double teams — and Trent and Alan each had three.

Nonetheless, it was a big momentum swing when Indiana’s defense was able to stifle the Illini offense in the manner that they did.

Start of the second half

Maybe this is repetitive, but I guess Illinois used up all its consistent offense in the first half. Midway through the second half Illinois had 38 points. THIRTY. EIGHT. POINTS. The Illini shot 54 percent in the first half, and, spoiler, that number dropped dramatically in the second half (just 43 percent in the second half, which rose dramatically thanks to late shooting by Ayo and Trent).

What I cannot figure out about this team is why they always seem to go on large scoring droughts. This isn’t a new phenomenon. It happened all through the John Groce era, too. I thought things were supposed to be better on offense, but I suppose we’ll just have to wait and be patient.

The Ugly

10 losses in 14 games

This might be a “wet blanket” take, but being 4-10 is...bad. I thought this team legitimately had a shot at 7-8 wins in the non-conference, coming away with one at Maui, and dismantling at least one team between Georgetown and Notre Dame….oh, and not losing to Florida Atlantic.

In reality, I have really come down from the offseason high of having some good recruits, what looked to be a decent offensive system, and a program moving in the right direction. After starting 4-10, I am not sure any of those are true with the exception of maybe the players on the team when they’ve had another two years to figure it out.

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