5 huge observations from the Illinois basketball win over Iowa State

The wait to get back to the Elite 8 is finally over, as the Illinois basketball team managed to hold on against No. 2 seed Iowa State on Thursday night.

Illinois v Iowa State
Illinois v Iowa State / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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2. When called upon, the Illini bench showed up

One of my biggest worries throughout the season was with the Illinois bench. They always had a ton of talent, but there would be times when the bench showed up, and other times they disappeared.

Illinois didn’t need the bench in the first two rounds, as we trounced both Morehead State and Duquesne. But Iowa State was a different animal. This is a team that beat No. 1 seed Houston by 28 points in the Big 12 Tournament championship game.

The Illini needed all hands on deck against the Cyclones. They had a great defense, and we needed to throw all of the weapons we had at them. What the Illinois bench did for this program on Thursday night ended up being huge.

Luke Goode came up so clutch for the Illini. He played 28 huge minutes and dropped eight points, two rebounds, and one steal while not having a single turnover. Goode also went 2-of-5 from three-point range and had the rarity of making both of his free throws.

This was one of Goode’s best games. While the box score might not say it was one of his best games, he made some big plays throughout the game. Goode’s ability to rebound the basketball was phenomenal, and his basketball IQ showed greatly.

It was more of a mixed bag with Dain Dainja, but he still gave Illinois some crucial minutes. While Dainja did have three turnovers and three fouls, he contributed seven points, six rebounds, two steals, two blocks, and one assist to the cause.

The Illinois bench combined for 15 points, nine rebounds, three assists, three steals, and two blocks. Those are some big numbers, and they helped propel us to victory.