We entered a new era of Illinois basketball on Friday night, and the first game looked pretty good.
The Illini came out of the gates a little lost, and Fairleigh Dickinson jumped on these struggles. The Knights kept the game close for much of the first half. Illinois eventually took over, though.
Big shot after big shot helped extend the Illini lead to 20 points by halftime. It was much of the same in the second half, as Illinois didn't cool down. The Orange and Blue would extend the 20-point lead to 33 points by the game's end. Illinois managed to beat Fairleigh Dickinson, 104-71.
Here are five observations from the Illinois basketball win over Fairleigh Dickinson
1. Illinois had to go through an adjustment period
While the final score shows a blowout victory, early on, it wasn’t that easy for the Illini. This game was decently close in the first 10 minutes or so, and it was due to Illinois going through an adjustment period.
When you lose your best player, it is going to take some time to find a groove. There are new rotations, which is a big enough adjustment. Luke Goode got the starting nod, and he didn’t look good from the jump.
I also believe that figuring out who the main scorer is going to be was an adjustment for the Illini. We lost someone who averaged over 21 points per game. That scoring has to come from some other source now.
Illinois ended up breaking out of the adjustment period toward the end of the first half. Justin Harmon really helped with his great shooting. The rest of the team then rallied around the talented guard and started making plays.
At the end of the day, this isn’t just a one-man team anymore. This is a group that has to come together to win as a unit. That showed on Friday night, as six players scored in double figures. While there was an adjustment period, that period didn’t last very long. This Illinois team is talented and we showed that against Fairleigh Dickinson.