Illinois basketball continued to roll with another double-digit victory over Western Illinois on Friday night.
For the first time this season, the Illini didn’t start the game slowly. We jumped on the Leathernecks early and didn’t let up.
Illinois shot the ball well for the most part, but free throws were still a bugaboo for the program. Despite shooting a dismal 50% from the charity stripe, Illinois managed to take a 17-point lead at halftime and turn it into a 32-point victory.
Here are five observations from the Illinois basketball win over Western Illinois
1. A balanced bench for Illinois helped tremendously
Illinois hasn’t had great bench play this season. Usually, it is just one or two players who do much for the program off the bench.
Against Western Illinois on Friday night, the Illini bench played some of the best basketball of the season. It was all led by Luke Goode as well.
Goode had another good game for the Orange and Blue. He finished the night with nine points and five rebounds while hitting 3-of-7 from three-point range. The fact he doesn’t turn the ball over is huge too.
I was also happy with the contributions of Justin Harmon. He had his best game as a member of the Illini. Harmon finished the Western Illinois game with two points, three rebounds, two steals, one assist, and one block in 17 minutes of action.
The bench as a whole had an efficient game. They combined for 22 points, 15 rebounds, four steals, two blocks, and one assist. They only had two turnovers as well.
Illinois’ starters are going to do their thing, but with someone like Coleman Hawkins out of the lineup, we are going to need the bench to step up even more. Against the Leathernecks, that is exactly what happened.