Illini grade vs. Gardner-Webb: C
Marcus Jackson's take on Sunday's 63-62 Illinois win.
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Joseph Bertrand, Illinois
Yes, Tyler Griffey hit the big shot at the end, but it was Bertrand’s energy that made it possible for Illinois to be in position to win a game after an uninspired start.
Tracy Abrams had his first bad game of the season, but Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson (13 points apiece) picked up the slack and boosted the Illini.
Nnanna Egwu had an off night but Griffey (13 points) kicked it into gear in the second half, scoring all of his points to help Illinois survive.
Bertrand was the man. Even though his stat line (three points, two rebounds) was less than impressive, Sam McLaurin was key on the defensive end and his energy was welcomed.
Not what the folks were expecting to see after the dominating run in Maui, but the Illini showed again they can recover after being knocked down early in games.