Feb 9, 2014; University Park, PA, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Jon Ekey (33) guards Penn State Nittany Lions guard Tim Frazier (23) during the second half at Bryce Jordan Center. Illinois defeated Penn State 60-55. Mandatory Credit: Matthew O

Illinois Fighting Illini Basketball: Three Things Learned Against Penn State

1. Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill should continue to start: For many Illini fans, it was a long time coming to see both Kendrick Nunn and Malcolm Hill crack the starting lineup. Fans have been wondering when they would see at least one freshman start for the Illini and it seems like the time is now. Both Nunn and Hill had great games against Penn State and proved their worth to this Illini team. If Illinois starts winning again with these two in the starting lineup, Illini fans will wonder why Coach Groce didn’t make this move games earlier.

2. Jon Ekey is more effective coming off the bench: In order to make room for Nunn and Hill in the starting lineup, two Illini players needed to hit the bench. Jon Ekey was one of those players, but that did not seem to faze him. He checked into the game during the first half and gave the Illini a boost off the bench. Staring at a 16-9 deficit, Ekey hit his first three of the game to pull Illinois within four points. Ekey ended up playing 21 minutes off the bench where he scored nine points, grabbed three rebounds, and racked up two steals. Jon Ekey might be able to serve the Illini better coming off the bench at this point in the season.

3. Illinois has a back-up for Nnanna Egwu: One of the biggest problems for Coach Groce this season has been finding a solid back-up for Nnanna Egwu. No matter if it’s foul trouble or just giving him rest, Egwu cannot play every minute of every game. On Sunday, a back-up stepped up when Egwu picked up two early fouls, and his name was Maverick Morgan. Morgan performed well along side fellow freshmen Nunn and Hill in the Illini victory. In his ten minutes of relief for Nnanna Egwu, Morgan hit both of his two shots for four points and grabbed four total rebounds. Yes, it might have only been one game, but let’s hope this is good things to come for the Illinois Fighting Illini.

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Tags: Basketball Illinois Fighting Illini Jon Ekey Kendrick Nunn Malcolm Hill Maverick Morgan

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