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The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Penn State

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The momentum is starting to fade.

NCAA Basketball: Penn State at Illinois Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports

Basketball is a game of runs. In a typical game, one team goes on a run followed by the other, and so on. I’ve also realized over the years that entire seasons operate in much the same manner: a team will go on a streak during where they’ll rattle off improbable wins and look invincible, only to follow that up with another streak in which they can’t buy a win. There seems to rarely be a middle ground, especially with Illinois basketball, and this season is no exception.

The Good

Giorgi Bezhanishvili

This is a freshman who simply continues to amaze. Giorgi earned the first double-double of his young career on Saturday, recording 16 points and 10 rebounds.

Giorgi is already a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten, and I can’t wait to see how he develops in the years to come.

Andres Feliz

Feliz finished with 17 points, the second-most points for the Illini on the afternoon, to go along with 2 assists, 2 rebounds, and 2 steals. Andres’ athleticism is really starting to take center stage, but unfortunately his aggressive play style did result in him fouling out. He’s another player who could take a major step next season now that he’s routinely showing off moves like this:

As one of the few older players on a team starved for experience, the emergence of Andres Feliz has been a real bright spot lately.

The Bad

Defense on Lamar Stevens

Brad Underwood has staked his reputation on his Bob Huggins-style aggressive defense, and the Illini seem to be just now starting to get a grasp on it. Unfortunately, Lamar Stevens was just too much to handle. The Penn State star lit the Illini up for 25 points and 8 rebounds. He did give up 7 turnovers, but that’s simply not enough when a player is able to put up 25 points on the road in front of an opposing sellout crowd.

Three-Point Shooting (Excluding Aaron Jordan)

Illinois players not named Aaron Jordan shot an abysmal 19% (3-16) from beyond the arc. That’s simply not going to get it done. Trent Frazier had a particularly rough day, going an uncharacteristic 1-9 from three-point land. Ayo Dosunmu was only 1-4 from three for the game. Aaron Jordan led the team by shooting 3-4 from behind the arc, contributing to a solid day for Illinois’ resident senior sharpshooter.

The Ugly

The Officiating

Illinois was likely going to lose this game regardless, but man these refs had a rough day.

This loss hurts, as a win would have solidified Illinois’ place above the bottom teams in the conference. Now that doesn’t seem so clear anymore. And the road ahead doesn’t get much easier, as the Illini will travel to Purdue to take on the No. 15 Boilermakers on the road next week.

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