The Illini always seem to choose the hard way.
Well, I said if the Illini played defense in the second half like they did in the first that they would win. I wasn't expecting them to shoot 3-22 in the field, but it turns out that was enough today against Colorado in a 57-49 win. On to the not-so-pretty numbers.
A couple of things that stand out here. Colorado really turned up the defensive pressure in the second half, and it bothered the Illini in both their shooting and in turnovers. Illinois turned it over nine times in the second half, after just three miscues in the first twenty minutes. As for Colorado...
This was one of the Illini's best defensive efforts of the season. Only the win at Northwestern was better in terms of points per possession since I've started keeping track. Illinois did a very nice job on the boards against a good-rebounding Buffalo squad. They'll have to do better offensively to have a chance on Sunday against a very impressive Miami team, but John Groce will take it. Survive and advance!
Great to see (and hear) DJ Richardson hitting some big shots!
It was all Illinois through the last ten minutes of the half, as they outscored Colorado 26-6 to take a 37-21 lead. As you might expect, Illinois dominated the efficiency numbers.
Combine an effective FG percent of more than 50% with a microscopic turnover rate of just 9.7% (only three turnovers total), and you get an offense that's humming on all cylinders. Meanwhile for the Buffaloes...
Not sure Illinois can play much better than they did in the first twenty minutes. If they can maintain the defensive effort, they should advance to play a very good Miami team on Sunday.