Illinois Basketball: 3 observations from the Illini win over Rutgers

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Illinois basketball

CHAMPAIGN, IL – JANUARY 11: Illinois Fighting Illini forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili (15) celebrates from the bench after a teammate makes a three point shot during the Big Ten Conference college basketball game between the Rutgers Scarlet Knights and the Illinois Fighting Illini on January 11, 2020, at the State Farm Center in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The Illinois basketball team didn’t make it easy, but we were able to come away with a big victory over Rutgers on Saturday afternoon.

Rutgers always seems to be a thorn in the side of the Illini. No matter the record, most of the time we struggle against the Scarlet Knights. This season is different, though. Rutgers is actually pretty good. They showed their improvements on Saturday.

The Scarlet Knights jumped out to a quick 10-4 lead less than five minutes into this game. Illinois wasn’t letting it get out of hand, though. The Illini were able to get the score back to 12-8 with 10 minutes to go until halftime.

Illinois’ first lead of the game came at the 8:17 mark in the first half when Kofi Cockburn put the Illini up 13-12. But Rutgers was a stubborn team to get rid of. They kept hitting shot after shot and went into halftime with a 21-18 lead over the Illini.

Coming out of the locker room, it was a game of runs. Illinois rattled off some points. Rutgers would then come back on a little run themselves. With 10 minutes to go in the game, the Scarlet Knights still had the lead 31-30.

This game came down the wire with Rutgers holding strong after the Illini managed to get the lead up to six points. After a layup to get the deficit back to three points, Rutgers failed to foul, and Illinois ran out the clock to beat the Scarlet Knights 54-51.

Here are three observations from the Illini win over Rutgers.

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