The men’s Illinois basketball team can’t make things easy, but we managed to get past Valparaiso on Friday night.
I was hoping for a game that had the Illini get out to a huge early lead so some of the young guys could play extended minutes. Instead, what Illinois fans got was a team that lacked drive and passion for the first 20 minutes of action.
The Beacons came out and punched Illinois right in the mouth. We didn’t respond either. Valparaiso took an early lead and held it for the entire first half. Despite being down seven points at halftime, Illinois ended up flipping a switch and taking control. This resulted in a big Illini comeback and an 87-64 win over Valparaiso.
Here are five observations from the Illinois basketball win over Valparaiso
1. Luke Goode was big off the bench
This was an ugly game for the first half of basketball. Valparaiso would maintain a lead throughout the first 20 minutes. But if it wasn’t for Luke Goode, that lead would have been bigger and Illinois probably wouldn’t have blown the Beacons out of the water.
I would argue this was one of Goode’s best games as a member of the Illini. His offense is what obviously stands out the most, with 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting from three-point range. But Goode brings way more to the table than just points.
Each night, and especially against Valparaiso, Goode gives it his all in the hustle department. He is going after loose balls or hitting the glass with intensity. He doesn’t give less than 100%, and as a fan, it is appreciated.
Goode finished Friday night with 13 points, seven rebounds, one steal, one block, and one assist in 26 minutes of action. He was exactly what Illinois needed off the bench, and at this point in the proceedings, I am starting to question whether he should be a starter.
Illinois’ starters looked lackluster in the first 20 minutes of the game. The energy is just not there. Maybe a shot of Goode into the starting lineup would help us get out of the funk early on.