5 big observations from the Illinois basketball win over Iowa

It wasn't an easy road to the win, but the Illinois basketball team managed to pull together to protect homecourt.
Iowa v Illinois
Iowa v Illinois / Michael Hickey/GettyImages
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4. Defense continues to be an issue for the Illini

This was a big win for the Illinois basketball program because we just came off a terrible loss to Penn State. Dropping two in a row would have been devastating.

Despite the big win, there are still plenty of issues with the Illini. The biggest and most glaring issue is the lack of defense being played. It is painful to watch and quite frustrating as well.

I was hoping the bad Illinois defense was only a fluke. Sometimes a team can get into a funk and have a few bad games. That isn’t the case with this team, though. The Illini have now given up at least 80 points in five out of the past six contests, which includes allowing Iowa to score 85 points on Saturday.

The same defensive issues continue to arise each game. It is not like a different issue happens each game and we are just trying to put a complete defensive game together. It is the same issues every night.

Illinois did a better job getting back on defense against the Hawkeyes, but we couldn’t stop them from scoring. We were slow rotating. When Iowa drove the lane, Illinois would double-team the driver. That is fine, but someone either has to eventually drop off or another teammate needs to rotate over to prevent an open player in the paint. That didn’t happen, and it allowed for many easy buckets for Iowa.

There were a few times that I uttered to myself, that was impressive defense. But, for the most part, Illinois’ guards couldn’t keep up with Iowa. Tony Perkins and Josh Dix were able to get whatever shot they wanted because we were lagging behind so often.

Not only was Iowa hitting from mid-range, but Illinois’ guards couldn’t prevent the Hawkeyes from getting into the lane. Since we lagged behind the Iowa players, they were able to penetrate our defense with ease. This allowed for an Illini player to collapse, and Iowa would get an easy bucket.

And lastly, this goes in the same vein as defense. Illinois wasn’t boxing out, and it drove me crazy. Iowa had multiple second-chance points on Saturday afternoon. They average 8.6 offensive rebounds per game, but against the Illini, Iowa pulled down 11 offensive rebounds. That allows the Hawkeyes to put up more points.

Illinois’ defense needs a major adjustment before the Big Ten Tournament. If we can’t hold teams to under 80 points, then this could end up being a short March for the Orange and Blue.