Illinois Basketball: 4 big statistics from the Illini loss to Missouri

Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Andre Curbelo (5) and Missouri Tigers guard Dru Smith (12) fight for a loose ball during the first half at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 12, 2020; Columbia, Missouri, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Andre Curbelo (5) and Missouri Tigers guard Dru Smith (12) fight for a loose ball during the first half at Mizzou Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports /

Once again, the Illinois basketball team fell short to Cuonzo Martin and the Missouri Tigers in a hard-fought Braggin’ Rights matchup.

There is a ton to unpack from this battle, as the Illini looked vulnerable for the first time this season.

Yes, the loss versus Baylor hurt, but the Bears are a veteran squad with potentially the best collective defensive roster in college basketball. The Illini should have won this game, whereas they should not have beaten Baylor.

There is potential for a ton of growth from this hard-fought loss, though. Here are four big statistics that impacted the Illini’s struggles.


Ayo Dosunmu and Kofi Cockburn accounted for 70-percent of the Illini’s points.


Illinois’ success on the recruiting trail and in the transfer market has taken a major upswing in the last two years, but the lack of production from the rest of the team will make them easier to gameplan against.

Trent Frazier, who has never been shy shooting the ball in the past, was 1-of-3 from the field. 34 shots through six games is not enough for the senior. He has been critiqued for his inefficiency at times, but it does garner attention which is vital for the rest of the team offensively.

Adam Miller had a cold 1-of-6 shooting night and struggled with fouls, something that will happen as a freshman. Andre Curbelo had 13-percent of the Illini’s points against Missouri and had a strong game on both ends, but he is naturally a pass-first and secondary scoring option.

That leaves 9 points between four players who have accounted for 38.4 combined points on average through five games.

Dosunmu has to be and will be the head of the snake for Illinois all season, but he has to do a lot more in other categories. In a massive rivalry, as one of the best players in the nation, I understand the rationale of putting the team on your back and going to get yours. But he has to impact winning in key games.

Dosunmu has vastly improved in year three, and he illustrated that through five games. I expect to see a sharper Dosunmu with a laser focus on impacting winning rather than getting his. He had an incredible night scoring the ball, and the Illini would not have been in the game down the stretch without his shot-making abilities, but no player is flawless, and there is polishing to do.

The usage rate for Dosunmu is up and his turnover percentage is down, both fantastic trends for a veteran guard, but his win-shares have taken a hit. Every opponent will be keyed on Dosunmu from the tip, giving him the opportunity to capitalize off the attention throughout the game, and when the Illini need him to get his in crunch time, he will do what he’s done his entire collegiate career.

In the end, this will be a fantastic moment of growth for the future NBA draft pick.


Ayo Dosunmu filled it up in the scoring column, but a 1:6 assist to turnover ratio will not take the Illini very far and is the exact area where the NBA scouts critiqued the guard.

I preached on it last game, but when Dosunmu is stuffing the stat sheet, he and the Illini are at their best. He has looked sharp in games prior with a near 3:1 assists to turnover ratio, but games like this can not happen often.

Illinois’ had 13 turnovers to only 10 assists against Missouri, which is a margin of -3.

Curbelo’s speed and flair have been a double-edged sword thus far, an area of worry since transitioning to the collegiate level. The Illini are stunting an absolutely horrific 1.1:1 assist to turnover ratio thus far, a recipe for disaster.

Coach Underwood has to be furious with the Illini’s lack of ability to take off the ball. Discipline issues lost the Illini this game, and for a team with so many veterans at the head of the snake, Mizzou exposed their inability to lock down the fundamentals. 100 assists to 92 turnovers through six games is unacceptable for a premier team.


Look, I hate criticizing referees. Officiating college basketball is an incredibly difficult job. But, I can not ignore the difficulty that the referees had controlling this game and creating a baseline.

The Illini had 25 personal fouls called on them. The flagrant foul call on Kofi Cockburn in crunch time was horrific, as Mitchell Smith hooked on to the big man and whipped his arm upwards, resulting in Kofi catching his head. If the call was going to be made, it should have been a personal foul, rather than handing the Tigers two free throws and possession.

Missouri had 27 fouls to go along with Illinois’ 25 fouls for a combined 52 fouls in the contest.

The first half of the game was filled with ticky-tack fouls, which happens, but the first 12 minutes of the second half was called much looser, before the final minutes being called meticulously.

Six Illini had four fouls. So yes, the Illini struggled defensively, but the number of bumps that were called blocking fouls on the perimeter was outlandish. The Illini have averaged 17.2 personal fouls in the previous five games.

Missouri has hard-nosed guards that drove to the rack hard, and the Illini committed far too many offensive fouls when trying to pump up the tempo too much. Whether you’re an Illini fan or a Missouri supporter, it was evidently difficult to watch the inconsistency and lack of game flow from the referees.

The Illini will learn from it and it should serve to benefit down the line, but there was too much of an impact on the game by the officials.

11 & -9

The Illini are shooting 67-percent from the free throw line this season versus 73-percent last season. This is an issue.

Andre Curbelo and Kofi Cockburn should get to the line a ton all year long and must convert. The Illini were No. 2 in the nation with a +22 rebounding margin prior to this game. That is down to +16 now.

On Saturday, Illinois missed 11  free throws and was outrebounded by Missouri by nine total boards.

Next. 4 observations from the Illini loss to Missouri. dark

These alone are two massive swing factors that will lose team’s close games. The next game of the season kicks off Big Ten play, and if these two areas do not smoothen out and become more consistent, there will continue to be games where they swing too far in the wrong direction on off nights.