The Illinois Fighting Illini were defeated by the Indiana Hoosiers, 80-64, in their quarterfinals game of the Big Ten conference tournament at the United Center in Chicago.
Yesterday, everything seemed to be going Illinois’ way. However, everything went Indiana’s way on Friday.
The Illini just came out slow against the Hoosiers. They looked like a completely different team than the one that played a thriller on Thursday.
“If you compete at a high level, you can beat anybody in the country,” Brandon Paul said. “We came in with the mindset that we can win all these games. I feel like once we put two halves together, we’ll be in a good position.” (Source: Associated Press)
On the other hand, Indiana looked to have everything working in their first action of the Big Ten conference tournament.
Cody Zeller took over against the Illini. Whenever the Hoosiers took off in transition, Zeller was flying down the floor to finish the play. He led Indiana in scoring with 24 points and grabbed six rebounds. He only missed two shots the entire game and made all six of his free throws.
Zeller was not the only Indiana player to score in double figures. Christian Watford (15), Victor Oladipo (12), and Kevin Ferrell (12) all scored double-digit points on Friday. Oladipo also led the team with eleven rebounds.
The only Indiana starter to not score more than one point was Jordan Hulls. However, he was an assist machine as he led the team with seven assists. Indiana put on a total team effort.
For Illinois, Paul led the team again in scoring with 16 points although he was joined this time by D.J. Richardson. Joseph Bertrand also added ten points off the bench for Illinois.
Even with the loss, it wasn’t all bad for the Illini on Friday. They just couldn’t get their offense and defense clicking at the same time.
They played good defense to start the game, but their shots just didn’t fall. In the second half, the offense picked up, but Indiana was able to ride their first half lead to victory.
After Thursday’s game, Paul said that the team was feeling their “Maui Swag” during the game. This was a reference to the team’s play during the Maui Invitational earlier this season.
It comes down to consistency for the Illini. They will be in the NCAA Tournament, but will need to be more consistent if they want to make a push for that “One Shining Moment.”
Illinois showed in their first round game that they can compete with any team in the county (even look at their non-conference record). They just need to become a more consistent team. If they do that, they’ll be scary in March.
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