Illinois Basketball: 4 big questions for the Illini against Penn State

Nov 26, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) runs up court during the second half against the Texas-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 26, 2021; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini center Kofi Cockburn (21) runs up court during the second half against the Texas-Rio Grande Valley Vaqueros at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports /
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Jan 11, 2022; Lincoln, Nebraska, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Trent Frazier (1) dribbles the ball against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the second half at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports /

4. Can we continue playing efficient basketball?

The Illinois basketball team used to be one of the most reckless teams on the court. They would turn the ball over more than just about any team in the country.

Over time, though, the Illini have become more and more efficient with the basketball. Dating back to November 30, 2021, Illinois was one of the worst teams in the country when it came to turnovers. We were averaging 16.4 turnovers per game, which ranked No. 319 in the nation.

Illinois continued to improve, though. By January 30, the Illini were only averaging 13.3 turnovers per game, which ranked No. 201 in the country. That was a massive jump from just two months prior.

The improvements in taking care of the ball still continue to the day. As of right now, Illinois is averaging just 12.5 turnovers per game, which ranks No. 160 in the nation. So, compared to November 30, the Illini are averaging nearly four turnovers per game fewer today than back then. That is an impressive improvement.

So, a big question I have for the Penn State game is can Illinois continue playing efficient basketball?

For the month of February, the Illini have not been turning the ball over. There was one outlier and that was the Northwestern game where we had 19 turnovers. In the other seven games in February, Illinois had fewer than 10 turnovers in each game. Even with that one outlier game, the Illini averaged just 9.6 turnovers per game for the month of February.

When we have the ball, let’s not turn it over. Illinois has done a great job of doing that the last few months. This continued improvement in efficiency will help us greatly in the NCAA tournament.

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