5 massive observations from the Illinois basketball win over Ohio State

It wasn't easy but the Illinois basketball team still managed to emerge with a Big Ten Tournament win over Ohio State on Friday night.

Mar 15, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) celebrates
Mar 15, 2024; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini forward Dain Dainja (42) celebrates / Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports
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3. The last few minutes of Coleman Hawkins was clutch

Man, was Coleman Hawkins having an ugly game. He looked horrific for the first 35 minutes against Ohio State. Granted, he wasn’t the only Illinois basketball player laying an egg, but Hawkins is a big-time member of this program, and he looked terrible.

In the first 35 minutes against the Buckeyes, Hawkins had a total of three points, three rebounds, and one assist while turning the ball over twice. He wasn’t taking shots or being aggressive toward the basket. Hawkins was extremely passive for some reason. It was almost like he wasn’t feeling well and was acting as if he was a decoy during this stretch of time.

The game was close coming down the stretch, though. Illinois needed some big plays from some big-time players, and when that was the case, Hawkins showed up.

In the final five minutes of the game, Hawkins doubled his production on the court. During this stretch of five minutes, he had four points, four rebounds, two blocks, and one assist. He had better numbers in that five-minute stretch and the 35 minutes prior.

Hawkins woke up during the final stretch of the game. He was skying for rebounds, which were huge. Illinois couldn’t give the ball back to Ohio State, and Hawkins made sure that was the case. He also came up with some crucial points that were needed to seal the win.

Many people are going to see the Hawkins box score and think he had a terrible game. That was true for the first 35 minutes, but in the last five minutes of the game, he was clutch for the Illini.