It is no secret that the Illinois basketball team has struggled against good power-five schools this season, but they’re on a two-game winning streak and look to have momentum starting Big Ten play.
This Illinois team lost to a good Michigan State team last week 76-56, as they shot a terrible 3-of-28 from three-point range and 22-of-55 from the field. They couldn’t get anything to go in the basket.
After the Michigan State loss, Illinois has been playing tremendous basketball, beating Purdue 63-37 and Wisconsin 71-70. That Michigan State loss really seems like it made Illinois look itself in the mirror and made them correct some flaws.
The Illinois offense, before the Purdue game, was usually stagnant against other good power-five teams. They would go through six-minute droughts, and players would not move around as much when they didn’t have the ball.
This really affected Illinois in the Maryland and Michigan State games. At the end of the Maryland game, the offense stalled out and allowed the Terrapins to get away with the win. The Michigan State game seemed as if the players weren’t moving without the ball as much, which resulted in the blowout loss.
Illinois’ offense has changed as players are looking to move without the ball throughout the whole game. The off-ball screens have been effective, and that helps Giorgi as he is able to work more in the post.
Moving without the ball also helped against the Badgers. Alan Griffin was able to hit the game-tying three-point shot by coming off an off-ball screen from Trent Frazier, and Ayo Dosunmu was able to get more mid-range baskets throughout the game.
We will see if Illinois can contain this offensive consistency during the Rutgers game Saturday. The Illini will look to improve to 12-5 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play.