5 crucial observations from the Illinois basketball win over Rutgers

Jan 18, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33)
Jan 18, 2024; Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Coleman Hawkins (33) / Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Illinois played 10 minutes of good basketball

This was a big win, as falling to a bottom-level Big Ten team would have been brutal. Illinois dominated Rutgers for the majority of the game, but honestly, we only played good basketball for about the final 10 minutes of the game.

Illinois ended up beating Rutgers by 23 points. The Scarlet Knights are a bad team. The fact we can win by that many points and play a C+ game is quite impressive. It shows you how good the Illini can be this season.

With 10:20 to go in the game, Rutgers actually cut the lead down to 55-51. This was a four-point contest through 30 minutes. That is when Illinois flipped a switch.

From the 10-minute mark down to the two-minute mark when Illinois started subbing in deep bench guys, the Illini played dominant basketball.

In this stretch of time, Illinois was 10-of-14, 71.4%, from the field for 27 points. Compare that to Rutgers, which was 3-of-9 for 10 points. This stretch of time was what changed the game completely. Illinois was only up four points, and just like that, we had a big double-digit lead.

Let’s not forget how great the Illini defense was during this eight-minute stretch too. We forced Rutgers into seven turnovers during this span of time. That is about one turnover per minute, which is insane.

The first 30 minutes of this game was pretty lackluster. Illinois didn’t look great until a fire was lit under us and the game was within two scores. That is when everything changed. Illinois looked great down the stretch.