The Illinois Fighting Illini basketball team took their show on the road to Bloomington, Indiana and tried to halt their season worst losing streak, but in the end the Indiana Hoosiers outlasted the Illini 56-46.
The Illini slogged through a 7 minute 24 second scoring drought in the first half, but they managed to trail the Hoosiers by a single bucket at halftime in large part because Noah Vonleh and Yogi Ferrell were held to no first half field goals, and Indiana was turning the ball over repeatedly.
Things went south in the second half as Yogi Ferrell began to heat up. He finished the game as the Hoosiers high point man with 17 points on 4-7 shooting including 8-8 from the free throw line. New starter, Stanford Robinson finished the game with 10 points.
Illinois was led in scoring by Rayvonte Rice and his 20 points on 7-11 shooting from the floor. He also made 4 three pointers on 7 attempts. It was a sharp turnaround from Rice’s last game, but unfortunately he was the only Illini player to hit double figures in today’s game.
A pair of Illini just weren’t themselves today, and it cost the Illini a legit chance at a W today.
Joseph Bertrand was 1-11 from the floor, finishing with 2 points. Like Rice, it was a sharp contrast to his 19 point outburst in the Illini’s last game.
Tracy Abrams finished the game with 2 points as well, though his was through 1-4 shooting from the floor. Abrams just didn’t look like himself today at all, and he spent much of the game on the bench in favor of freshman PG Jaylon Tate.
For Illinois to end this current 6 game Big Ten losing streak they are going to have to sync up offensively. Their effort is there, but converting baskets around the rim has been a problem during this recent skid, and Illinois has got to find a way to finish when they have the chance.
That said, two other Illini deserve to be recognized for their efforts today, and one most likely affects the other. Jaylon Tate had perhaps his best outing as an Illini today. He finished the game with 6 points, and 5 assists. He still needs to gain strength to be effective game in and game out in the rugged Big Ten, but he is a true point guard in the making, and that’s a good thing. As a result of Tate’s facilitation, Nnanna Egwu continued to come out of his recent offensive funk as he posted a final line of 8 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks.
Illinois returns to action at home on Saturday, February 1st, when they face the #10 Iowa Hawkeyes.