5 huge observations from the Illinois basketball win over Morehead State

Illinois basketball let Morehead State play up to our level in the first half, but the second half featured a completely different team.
Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Marcus Domask (3) reacts after his
Mar 21, 2024; Omaha, NE, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Marcus Domask (3) reacts after his / Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports
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4. Illinois players picked up Ty Rodgers

Over the past month, I have been extremely impressed with Ty Rodgers. The young utility player has been doing everything on the court, and his offensive game seems to be improving.

Coming into the first round of the NCAA tournament, Rodgers had scored at least seven points in the prior five games, which included a 12-point outing against Ohio State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Sadly, against Morehead State, Rodgers had his worst game of the season. He didn’t give Illinois a single point, going 0-of-2 from the floor. Both of his shots were kind of ugly too. He wasn’t in a good position, and they were forced attempts.

Even when Rodgers isn’t great on the offensive end, he usually does the other things well. That wasn’t the case on Thursday either. He had three rebounds, two assists, and two turnovers. This was arguably his worst game since coming to Champaign.

But what is great about the Illinois basketball team is when we have someone playing poorly, his teammates pick him up.

Dain Dainja came through and picked up the slack. He had a career game. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn contributed points, and Luke Goode gave Illinois points and rebounds. The team rallied around Rodgers and pulled him along, just like he would do if the shoe was on the other foot.

Illinois has built some great depth on this team, and it showed against Morehead State. I fully expect Rodgers to be back to normal in the second round, as he is such a dynamic player for this program.