Whoo-wee last night’s game was a stinker. I did not think we were going to go into Madison and win the game or anything, but I was hoping it wouldn’t be a repeat of last year.
We may be a better team than last year (jury is still out), but Wiscy has definitely improved, and may actually be a contender. For that reason, I won’t spent too much time mourning last night’s 95-70 loss.
I can’t really explain what happened, because everything went wrong. I will also admit that Wisconsin is just a better team. There is a reason they are the #4 team in the country, a fact I wasn’t so sure of before I watched them play. Our defense was clearly ineffective, because the only team to score more than 65 points on us this year was Indiana and that was in overtime. Indy had 80, and Wiscy topped that with 95.
Somehow, Illinois managed to get to 70, which is crazy since the halftime score was 25-50. We matched Wiscy in the second with 45 points each, but that doesn’t matter when you’re down 25 at the half. Coach Groce was able to work some sort of halftime speech magic, but it was way too little too late. If we had showed up for the first half, then maybe this game wouldn’t have gotten quite so out of hand. At times the lead creeped over 30 points, and that sucks.
Five Badgers were in double figures, and the whole team shot 56% overall and 42% from behind the arc. The Illini, on the other hand, were 32% overall and 26% on 3′s. We attempted 19 free throws while they shot 33. We had more rebounds with 48 compared to 35, but that was basically because NONE of our shots fell and at least we got the rebound and tried and missed again.
The refs were perfectly respectable last night, it was all on us looking like crap, and really because Wisconsin made us look that way.
Nnanna Egwu had 10 rebounds but just 4 points, because he couldn’t get ANYTHING to go in. Rayvonte Rice managed to scrounge up a team-high 19 points while Joseph Bertrand had one of his best games of the season with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Kendrick Nunn had 8 points, and that’s about all that happened. There were missed dunks, missed layups, and just plain frustrated ugliness.
For Wiscy, Ben Brust had a team-high 18 points – including 4 3′s – and a ton of folks I never heard of had no problem scoring on us.
On the plus side, we were never going to win this game, so now Coach Groce has a lot to look over and a lot of adjustments to make Might as well go out with a serious bang and really expose every single flaw. Right? RIGHT?
Up next, the Illini will head to Evanston to face Evanston’s Big Ten Team, Northwestern on Sunday at 6:30. This game is really a must-win type of thing, because we have to be rather down in the dumps after last night. Not to mention the fact that Northwestern is pretty terrible, so a loss there would hurt.
We’ve had a bad game and it’s over, so now let’s see how we move forward.