Illinois Basketball: 4 big questions for the Illini vs Cincinnati

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Illinois basketball

CHAMPAIGN, IL – NOVEMBER 12: Andre Curbelo #5 of the Illinois Fighting Illini dribbles the ball against Caleb Fields #0 of the Arkansas State Red Wolves at State Farm Center on November 12, 2021 in Champaign, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Illinois basketball will try to correct the mistakes that were made in the Marquette loss just a week ago.

The Illini fell to the Golden Eagles in ugly fashion, but it is just one game in a long season. Cincinnati is the next opponent on the schedule, and Illinois is at full strength for the first time in 2021-22.

Here are four big questions for the Illinois basketball team vs Cincinnati.

1. Can Curbelo tighten up a bit?

As everyone saw just a week ago, Illinois dropped a game to Marquette in the ugliest way possible. We had that victory if we didn’t play one of the worst games in the Brad Underwood era.

One of the culprits for the bad play was Andre Curbelo. I would peg Curbelo as the leader of the Illini. As Curbelo goes, the program goes.

That is why Illinois lost to the Golden Eagles. Curbelo had one of the worst games of his career. He would finish the night with 11 points, eight rebounds, and three assists. These are okay numbers for the potential All-American point guard, but his seven turnovers on the night are what really had everyone talking.

Curbelo can’t have seven turnovers in a game. I am all for him playing his game and having fun on the court, but if he continues having games like the one against Marquette, this Illini program has zero chance to win a title.

The 2021-22 campaign has started off rough for Curbelo as well. He is averaging similar numbers to last season with 9.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 5.0 assists per game, but he is doing it at a much less efficient rate. Curbelo is averaging nearly double the turnovers at 4.5 turnovers per game, and he is only shooting 26.9% from the floor, which is a dramatic drop from 49.8% last season.

Can Curbelo tighten up his game a bit against Cincinnati? This is something to keep an eye on. If he can, the Illini should cruise to an easy win.

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