Illinois Basketball: 5 observations from the Illini loss to Arkansas

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Mar 16, 2023; Des Moines, IA, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks guard Anthony Black (0) dunks the ball against Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) during the first half at Wells Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

2. Rebounding was inexcusable

I understand that Illinois is bad at shooting and that is why we don’t score a ton of points. But there are certain things that we can do that take more effort than skill.

One of those things is rebounding the basketball. Illinois, on paper, is good at rebounding. We are averaging 38 rebounds per game this season, and that was good enough to rank No. 26 in the country. But I think that number is a bit skewed due to some early-season triumphs.

Late in the season, Illinois had their good rebounding ability zapped. We couldn’t rebound the basketball, and this killed us down the stretch.

Coming into the game against the Razorbacks, the Illini had lost the rebounding battle in three out of the past four games and four out of the last seven contests. This was not a good trend, and we ended up carrying that negative momentum over to the Arkansas game.

Illinois wouldn’t just get outrebounded by one or two boards against the Razorbacks. We were demolished on the glass, as Arkansas would outrebound the Orange and Blue by nine rebounds. We were only able to pull down 34 boards compared to 43 rebounds from Arkansas.

All 6-foot-10 of Coleman Hawkins played 34 minutes and only managed to pull down four rebounds. Terrence Shannon Jr., who has been strong on the glass at times, only pulled down two rebounds.

Not only did Illinois allow Arkansas to have nine more rebounds, but they also pulled down 11 offensive rebounds. That is way too many second-chance opportunities.

Arkansas didn’t blow me away by any means. Like most games this season, Illinois got in the way of Illinois. This was a bad loss and rebounding was a big reason for the early end of the season.

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