Brad Underwood: “We obviously came out in the second half and got blitzed”

Illinois v Connecticut
Illinois v Connecticut / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Illinois Fighting Illini’s season has come to a bitter end. After a historic postseason run, including a Big Ten Tournament title and a run to the Elite Eight in the NCAA Tournament, the Illinois men’s basketball team should be proud of what they accomplished.

“It’s very hard to win 29 games in college basketball,” Head coach Brad Underwood said after the game. “This team did that.”

Illinois has been one of the winningest programs in the Big Ten over the past five years and the trouncing that the Fighting Illini experienced in the Elite Eight was not only shocking but devastating.

The UConn Huskies obliterated Illinois in the Elite Eight matchup. UConn, who walked away with the 77-52 victory, moved on to the Final Four while the Fighting Illini would head home.

“Tons of credit to UConn,” Underwood said. “We obviously came out in the second half and got blitzed… they do what they do… give them credit…”

Despite trailing by just 8 points at halftime, the Fighting Illini seemed to enter the second half at a standstill and struggled to score points through the first 10 minutes of the second period.

The Huskies went on a 28-0 run to open a wide gap and, quite literally, run away with the game.

“I don’t want one person in this program, that’s had anything to do with our men’s basketball program, to remember it by this game,” Underwood said.

Fans, staff, coaches, and players alike were incredibly emotional after the Illinois loss. 

After an incredible season, postseason, and NCAA Tournament run, Underwood had nothing but praise for his team and his players.

“I’m the most blessed coach in college basketball,” Underwood said.

The Illinois head coach spoke highly of his players’ growth, maturity, leadership, and ball skills. He was joined by Coleman Hawkins and Marcus Domask who shined brightly in the team’s last game of the season.

“I just wanna hang around this team,” Hawkins said. “I just want to have fun with them.”

The team finished its season at 29-9 overall and defeated Morehead State, Duquesne, and Iowa State on their way to the Elite Eight.

Domask led the team in assists this season with 4.0 per game, he had 3 rebounds and 17 points against UConn.

Hawkins led the Fighting Illini in steals and blocks throughout the year with 1.5 and 1.1 per game respectively. Against UConn, Hawkins was only able to contribute 5 points and 4 rebounds.