5 painful observations from the Illinois basketball loss to Purdue

This was a golden opportunity for the Illinois basketball team to arrive on the national stage. That opportunity was squandered, though.
Mar 5, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Purdue Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter and Illinois
Mar 5, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Purdue Boilermakers head coach Matt Painter and Illinois / Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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2. Terrence Shannon Jr. disappeared at the wrong time

Illinois was taking on the No. 3 team in the nation on Tuesday night. This was a chance to show the nation that we are one of the best teams in the country. It was also a chance for Terrence Shannon Jr. to cement his place as a first-team All-American.

That didn’t end up being the case, though. Illinois gave up a lead and let Purdue surge ahead at the end. Meanwhile, Shannon never really showed up to the game.

I was waiting and waiting for Shannon to flip the switch. He can start games slowly and then come alive to put up big numbers. That switch was never flipped. Shannon was a non-factor for much of the game for the Illini.

When the final horn blew, Shannon’s box score showed 11 points, two rebounds, and one assist on 3-of-13 shooting from the floor and 0-of-4 from three-point range. He did make all five free throws, though.

Purdue is just a tough matchup for Shannon. He has now played the Boilermakers twice in his career with the other game coming on the exact same date, March 5, last year, and Illinois lost that game 76-71. Shannon put up 13 points, one rebound, and two assists in that contest.

I think Shannon struggles with two things against Purdue. The first is the fact they have Zach Edey. Shannon loves to drive to the hoop and get to the free throw line. It is tougher to do that when you have a giant in the middle of the paint.

Purdue also does a great job of rotating on defense. They aren’t a lazy perimeter-defending team. So, that means Shannon doesn’t get the open three-point looks he usually gets against weaker opponents.

This was a rough game for Shannon and the Illini. Hopefully, we got this game out of the way, and Purdue doesn’t pop up on our schedule again.