3. Adalia McKenzie had an All-Effort game
Illinois has quite a few scoring options on the court. When you look at Makira Cook and Genesis Bryant, you think they will be the top two scorers each night. Not on Wednesday, though.
This was a big-time game from Adalia McKenzie. She put up 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 2-of-2 from three-point range. I believe her energy and aggression in the paint were a huge reason why she was so successful on the offensive end of the court.
I can honestly sit here and say that I was actually more impressed with the effort McKenzie left out on the court than her actual scoring in the game. She had a motor that wouldn’t quit, and it helped Illinois get out to a huge lead.
McKenzie’s hustle on defense was impressive. She was all over the court trying to make plays. McKenzie was able to get back on defense and create turnovers. I also noticed she was more aggressive when guarding the top of the key. There were numerous times she went after the ball to make a steal.
Another note I wanted to touch on was McKenzie’s fundamentals on defense. She isn’t lazy when guarding a player. I noticed, specifically, one time when an offensive player was driving McKenzie to the baseline, she kept her hips squared and the offensive player in front of her. This caused the offensive player to not get around her and they turned the ball over.
McKenzie had one of her best games of the season on Wednesday night. I loved what she gave Illinois offensively, but I was even more impressed with her effort and prowess on the defensive end of the court.