Illini grade vs. Miami: A minus

Illini grade vs. Miami: A minus

For large stretches, Illinois looked like the better team. The team that would head back to snowy Champaign-Urbana with a Sweet 16 date in Washington, D.C., this week. But Shane Larkin and Co. assured Illinois would return home to watch the rest of the NCAA tournament instead of preparing to play in it.

Rion Brown, Miami. Two huge three-pointers in a 29-second sequence midway through the second half by the guard who came in averaging only six points saved the Hurricanes. Brown finished with a game-high 21 points on 5-of-10 three-point shooting off the bench and sealed the win by making two free throws with 7.7 seconds left to send Miami to its second-ever Sweet 16 and the Illini home for the season.

Illinois A-
Miami A-
Brandon Paul was scintillating driving to the basket and shooting from outside in the second half. Tracy Abrams was gutty, although his late missed free throw proved huge. Both guards carried the Illini in the second half while Larkin, Durand Scott, despite his low scoring output (six points) and Brown proved their worth in the final minute.

Illinois A-
Miami B
Nnanna Egwu wasn't shy about taking jump shots. Or mixing it up in the lane. Sophomore continued his progression after 12-point, 12-rebound effort while Sam McLaurin was steady with his interior defense but did not score.  

Illinois B+
Miami A
Tyler Griffey (12 points on four three-pointers) and Brown seemed to one-up each other with their outside shooting. Joseph Bertrand's energy, length and athleticism stood out. Those attributes helped keep Illini in contention,

Illinois A-
Miami A-
Ask any Illinois fan before the season if they would have taken a four-point loss to a second seed during a Round of 32 game to end the season. Chances are a vast majority of fans would have raised their hands in agreement. Illinois overachieved all season, but couldn't make it last for one more night against the best team the ACC has to offer.

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RockfordRon wrote on March 25, 2013 at 12:03 am

Congrats on a fine season.  I've followed the Illini all year and that's the best they have played since their 12 and 0 start.  They finally took the ball to the basket and passed  the ball well--- and generally some good defence.

However they did have some major break downs on defence in the later part of he 2nd have that cost them. There are a couple of issues that I just don't understand.  1. What was McLaurin doing on the floor? I'm sure he is a nice young man and wanted to come to Illinois to play in the NCAA tournament, and I sure wish he had-- play that is!!!  He is about the softest  6' 8* player that I have ever seen.  Almost very time he would get a rebound, Miami would rake his arms a take the ball away from him????  And absolutely no inside game-- no points, not even a foul shot.

2. Why was Griffey on the Bench toward the end of the game--- his  3 pointers are what kept us in the game,  Then he is taken out and sat for long periods.  He was rebounding and playing much better defence than McLaurin.  The other guys were playing their butts off, great defensive  plan on Larkin but they got no help from there other big guy.  I think Groce had the rest of the team playing as well as they can play.

We should have been able to more advantage of the big Heavy  guy that Miami had in the center position.

Over all a very good season.

Chief_Lives wrote on March 25, 2013 at 11:03 am

Hell of a game by the Illini! Couldn't be more proud of the way they played!