5. The Illinois bench found a way to be effective
Honestly, this game should have been a loss. The way Illinois played and the bad decisions that were made, it still baffles me how we came away with a win. I truly believe this victory shows you how gritty this team is this season.
Another aspect of that grit that I mention is when Illinois players aren’t having a good offensive night, we can still be effective on the basketball court. A bad shooting night isn’t going to render us useless.
This really applied to the Illinois bench on Sunday. I would argue this was one of the worst bench performances of the season for the Illini. We didn’t get a ton of offensive help from the reserves.
Illinois’ bench had a total of 10 points on 3-of-16 shooting from the field and 0-of-11 from three-point range. I honestly haven’t seen anything worse this season and maybe in my lifetime. They were awful offensively.
But despite the bad shooting night, the Illini bench still came up big for the program. They were effective in different areas of the court.
Luke Goode contributed zero points and missed all six of his three-point attempts. He still managed to have eight rebounds, which was second on the team. He hustled and didn’t drag his feet. This kid showed the grit of the reserves.
The offensive night from Justin Harmon was putrid as well. He gave the Illini four points, all from the free throw line. Harmon missed all five shots and was 0-of-4 from the three-point arc. The talented senior still contributed three assists and two rebounds on the night.
Illinois’ bench finished the Nebraska game with 10 points, 13 rebounds, three assists, and one block. They were awful shooting the basketball, but they were able to produce in other areas on the court. The reserves found a way to be effective, and that is huge for the Illinois basketball team.