4. The lack of interior defense for Illinois was evident
There are times when I am pretty happy with the Illinois defense. The opposing team is missing shots, and the Illini are capitalizing on the bad attempts.
But then you run into a well-coached squad like Michigan State. They have the ability to hone in on the Illini weaknesses, and that is exactly what Tom Izzo and Company did on Saturday.
Michigan State played a well-balanced game against the Illini. They decided to get the ball inside, and this opened up the three-point arc.
Illinois has been putrid when it comes to interior defense this season. Yes, there are times when good things happen on the defensive end. Sometimes Coleman Hawkins has quick hands or a big block sends a ball into the stands, but for the most part, we can’t stop teams on the inside.
The Spartans dominated Illinois in the paint. They shot 51% from two-point range, and most of these shots were inside 10 feet. And on top of that, big man Mady Sissoko was out with fouls for much of the game.
Illinois’ guards had a hard time stopping Michigan State as they drove to the hoop. Luke Goode was a step slower than any guard he covered, and this led to the Spartans getting to the bucket for a make or free throws. This didn’t just happen with Goode, though. Marcus Domask had trouble keeping up and getting around screens. Quincy Guerrier was torched constantly and had to play trailing defense in hopes of a block.
It was an ugly game for the Illini defense. Michigan State had a game plan of attacking us from the inside. When we would get back on defense and expect them to dump it down to the inside, the Spartans would hit a three-point attempt. They played a better brand of basketball on Saturday.