Monday, December 19, 2011

Another Tight One

Is this getting to be a habit? The Illini basketball team struggled against Cornell Monday night, trailing much of the game. They managed to pull out a 64-60 win, but it was tough.

The Illini held the advantage inside with Meyers Leonard, who pulled down 16 rebounds. And they had the athletic advantage in the backcourt. But it was actually a pretty mid-range game that was the difference. Leonard early and Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson late all hit some nice mid-range jumpers that first helped the Illini fight back from a 10-point deficit in the first half, and then take the lead for good in the second half.

But this was brutal. Apparently zone defense is Greek to these boys. They just don't seem to know how to break it when the 3s aren't falling. And that outside shot has been off of late. The Illini racked up plenty of turnovers trying to get the ball in the middle, as well.

On the other end of the floor, the Big Red was hot, shooting 50 percent behind the arc. However, the Illini did tighten up their defense considerably as the game went on. Although Cornell continued to shoot well, sticky man-to-man D was key to allowing the Illini to stay in the game.

The Illini have plenty to improve on when you look at their games since the Gonzaga win. And they will need to work fast to get ready for Mizzou in St. Louis:

Rebounding looked really good Monday night, though, and the tendency to pass the ball for an open shot is a very good one, even though it resulted in a few ugly turnovers against Cornell. There's lots to build on. But it just gets tougher from here. Braggin' Rights will lead right into the Big Ten Conference season. Get ready, boys!

And go Illini!


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