Illini grade vs. Northwestern: A
Our breakdown of a beatdown: Illini 62, Wildcats 41
PLAYER OF THE GAME: Illinois’ Tracy Abrams
Apparently, coming off the bench doesn’t bother the point guard. He sparked a run by Illinois in the first half that turned a close game into a blowout. Does he keep coming off the bench? We’ll see.
Suddenly, D.J. Richadson is Illinois’ go-to guy. Brandon Paul wasn’t hitting his shots (2 of 6), but made up for by hitting the boards (six rebounds) and passing the rock (five assists).
“Point guard” Sam McLaurin showed his value with a crosscourt pass to Richardson for a three before the halftime buzzer. Ho-hum, Nnanna Egwu fouled out. That’s a problem.
Illinois A minus
Northwestern C minus
Tyler Griffey couldn’t get the lid off the basket in the first half, but kept firing away after intermission and finished with seven points. And five rebounds. He is officially the X factor.
Postgame complaints from John Groce: “The Orange Krush didn’t get good seats.” “The deep-dish pizza was a bit soggy.” “Whoa, is that purple nasty.” That’s about it as the seed improves.