1. Tracy Abrams - In a game were the entire Illinois Fighting Illini team did not look particularly good, Tracy Abrams was the best player on the court. He was the only Illini player to score in double-digits with 13 points, and had one of the better shooting percentages on the team as he hit 40% of his 15 shots. He also had six rebounds, five assists, and three steals in the loss. The only negative for the junior was his three personal fouls, but Illinois seemed to be on the bad side of some questionable foul calls all night. There’s absolutely no question that Abrams is the MVP for the Illini in a game that many fans just want to forgot all about.
2. Kendrick Nunn - Now, I was close to just naming one single stud for the Illini in this game, but I ultimately decided to keep with the naming of two studs for the Fighting Illini. My second stud in the loss would be freshman Kendrick Nunn. Yes, Nunn only went 2-of-7 from the field for 5 bench points, but he was able to do some nice things on the court. One of those nice things was not committing a turnover or a personal foul all night. For his 19 minutes (most among all Illini bench players), zero turnovers and fouls is definitely a positive. His second positive was his big time shot to tie the game at 34 with just over 7 minutes left in the game. If it wasn’t for Northwestern’s Tre Demps and his big three’s to follow, we might have been talking about Nunn’s three being the turning point for Illinois in a win.
1. Rayvonte Rice - It’s pretty obvious that Rayvonte Rice had a game in which he’d love to forget against Northwestern. Illinois’ leading scorer was only able to score a season-low eight points which is the first time he has scored less than 12 points this season. Rice just didn’t seem to get things going offensively as he shot just 18% from the field with just two made baskets. Despite the poor game for Rice, he did do some nice things defensively. He racked up three steals and blocked one shot. However, there is no question that Rice wants to put this game behind him ASAP.
2. Joseph Bertrand - Much like Rice, senior guard Joseph Bertrand had his worst offensive performance of the season and his worst since the game against Bradley on Nov. 17th. Bertrand scored only four points in the game while making only two shots total. He also went 0-of-3 from three and 0-of-2 from the foul line. Yes, he did haul in seven rebounds, dish out two assists, and rack up two steals. However, his poor offensive numbers made it a no-brainer to make him a dud for the night. Let’s hope things will get better for the senior in Illinois’ next game against Purdue.
3. Jon Ekey - Just like I had trouble selecting two studs for the Illini tonight, I had an even bigger time not naming an additional dud for Illinois. Because of this, Jon Ekey made the Duds list following the loss to the Wildcats. To keep the theme of the night, Ekey also hit just two shots total and went just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. He had some big chances to get some valuable points via the tip back, but couldn’t get the tip backs to fall. It wasn’t all negative for Ekey though. He did lead the Illini with nine rebounds in the game. However, his poor offensive performance earned him dud honors for the night.
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