Illinois Basketball: 4 big statistics from the Illini win over Duke

Nov 26, 2020; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Andre Curbelo (5) goes up for a shot during the second half against the Chicago State Cougars at the State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2020; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Andre Curbelo (5) goes up for a shot during the second half against the Chicago State Cougars at the State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

The Illinois basketball team officially has the nation’s attention after storming into Cameron Indoor and out-performing Duke in nearly every category.

Coach Brad Underwood has now set a strong baseline for what this team can be. Balance, experience, versatility and toughness were catalysts for the Illini all game long. Plenty stood out, but four numbers provide a narrative for the Illini to build off of.


All five starters had a +/- over 10 and six players had over 10 points. Balance was the name of the game.

When you have a National Player of the Year Candidate in Ayo Dosunmu, it could be easy to put all the production volume on him. Dosunmu, Coach Underwood and the entire roster have alternative plans. When the rest of the rotation is producing the way they did against Duke, it only makes Dosunmu more dangerous, and vice-versa.

The +/- numbers are what impressed me even more. Five players were over +10 and Adam Miller was +9. The offense fed off the defense as the Illini took over in transition. This Illini rosters’ ability to play on both ends with no piece being a one-way liability bodes very well for their chances down the line.


Since I started watching him play for the Illini, Ayo Dosunmu played one of my favorite games against Duke.

Dosunmu had just 18 points and went 0-of-2 from three-point range, but it was everything else he did. In five games, Dosunmu has 42 rebounds. He is currently on pace for double the number of assists he had in his freshman or sophomore seasons.

Dosunmu is one of the most complete and talented players in the nation, and while fans will be upset at times that he is not pouring in over 20 points each game, what he did on Tuesday night is what the Illini need to make a Final Four run.

Grabbing boards and starting the break allows Dosunmu to display his developing IQ and natural push-ahead ability. He only had five assists against Duke, but he had numerous hockey assists that set up dunks and open threes. Dosunmu continues to make the right plays and improve his assist to turnover ratio, a massive storyline I had been eager to watch in his Junior season.

Stuffing the stat sheet and affecting winning basketball is everything I am looking for from Dosunmu. Coach Brad Underwood was not lying when he said preseason that his best player was also his most improved player. Dosunmu continues to digest and understand the game at a different level than years past.


Prior to Tuesday, Duke had a 300-10 record versus non-conference opponents under Coach Mike Krzyzewski. That is 3.23-percent of non-conference opponents who have walked out of Durham with a victory with Coach K at the helm.

Having no Cameron Crazies in attendance certainly helped, but the Illini stunned the Blue Devils from the jump and did not let up. Roadkill is vital in the grueling Big Ten schedule and this was a phenomenal baseline to set early on in the season.


13 assists to a woeful 18 turnovers. A minus -5 assist to turnover margin is a massive piece for Coach Brad Underwood to build off of.

There is plenty of room to grow, even from a strong performance. The Illini have struggled to take care of the ball all year, and against a great team like Baylor, you can not walk out of the gym with a victory with a margin like -5. There is work to do.

Trent Frazier and Andre Curbelo accounted for 10 turnovers themselves, with five apiece. As a senior, Frazier must take care of the ball, especially due to the pressure that teams will put on Ayo Dosunmu all season.

Curbelo is still sped up a bit, and while his style of play is frenetic and game-breaking at times, the transition from LuHi must progress before peak Big Ten play in order to be trusted late in the game. There were multiple occurrences where Coach Underwood was asking Curbelo, “what are you doing?” as he pulled him out of the game.

Next. 4 observations from the Illini win over Duke. dark

All the while, Curbelo likely played his best game of the season thus far and had a 2:5 assist to turnover ratio. He is only going to get better. There is a ton of housekeeping and attention to detail to smooth out, and it could very well be the difference between Illinois being a good team versus a great team. They looked great against Duke, and what’s even scarier is that the analytics show there is a ton of room to grow.