5 massive observations from the Illinois basketball win over Indiana

Jan 27, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA;  Illinois Fighting Illini forward Ty Rodgers (20) leads
Jan 27, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Ty Rodgers (20) leads / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
2 of 5

2. Brad Underwood made a tough decision on Terrence Shannon Jr.

A federal judge enabled Terrence Shannon Jr. to play for Illinois while he awaits his preliminary hearing that will take place in May on charges of rape. Since he returned to the Illini lineup, Shannon hasn’t looked good.

You would think Shannon missed the entire season and not just six games. That is how off he looks right now. On Saturday, the bad play by Shannon affected the Illinois basketball team greatly. He looked terrible in the first half, and Brad Underwood had to make a tough decision.

Underwood sat Shannon for much of the first half. The star guard registered eight minutes and had two points, two fouls, one rebound, and one turnover on 1-of-5 shooting from the floor and 0-of-2 from three-point range.

It wasn’t just the bad numbers from Shannon that killed Illinois. His decision-making was off too. He was launching up bad shots, the offense wasn’t moving, and the Illini just looked constipated. It was ugly basketball.

This benching was great for the Illini. It enabled us to get back on track and play team basketball. Shannon finished -7 in the first half and a total of -6 for the game in box plus/minutes. That means, despite Illinois winning by eight points, we were losing by six points with Shannon on the court. With Shannon off the court, Illinois was winning by 14 points.

Gutsy decisions like the one Underwood made on Saturday are why I have hope Illinois can go far in March. While there were some bad decisions by Underwood, and I will get to that later, I think this was a great read by our coach.