MJ: The Illini slump, by the numbers
As Illinois battles its way through an eight-game losing streak, beat writer Marcus Jackson takes a look at some numbers that help illustrate exactly why the Illini are struggling:
That’s how many days it’s been since Illinois last walked off the court with a win. Coincidentally, it was against Sunday’s opponent, Penn State, which Illinois defeated 75-55 on Jan. 4 to move to 2-0 in the Big Ten. When Illinois lost seven straight in 1998-99, it went 30 days between wins.
Illinois’ standing in the Big Ten more than halfway through the conference slate. The Illini can move into an 11th-place tie with Penn State with a win Sunday. A last-place finish in the league would be the first for an Illini team since 1998-99, when Lon Kruger’s squad went 3-13.
Number of points Illinois scored Jan. 12 at Northwestern — for the entire game. It was the lowest point total for an Illinois team since scoring 42 in a win against Michigan State in 2012 and the second-fewest points scored by a Big Ten team in conference play this season. Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky (above) scored 43 in a single game this season.
The Illini are averaging a Big Ten-low 10 assists per game, a figure that ranks 335th nationally out of 351 programs in Division I. With 231 assists on 553 made baskets, the Illini are registering assists on 42 percent of their made field goals. By comparison, Michigan State, which leads the league in assists per game, gets a helper on 62 percent of buckets.
In Big Ten play, the Illini are connecting on 37.4 percent of their field goals, a figure that ranks 12th in the conference. Six times in league play, the Illini have failed to shoot at least 40 percent, including a season-low 28.1 percent at Northwestern.
The Illini are corralling 68.8 percent of their defensive rebounding opportunities, tied for last in the conference with Purdue. The Illini have yielded 241 offensive rebounds this season to opponents, an average of 10.5 per game leading to 9.6 points per contest.
Illinois’ five starters (Rayvonte Rice, Tracy Abrams, Joseph Bertrand, Jon Ekey, Nnanna Egwu) account for 80.1 percent of the team’s scoring, averaging 54.8 points per game. Illinois’ bench, which is comprised primarily of freshmen, has been outscored 389-296 by opponents’ reserves.
That’s how long it’s been since Illinois last experienced a losing streak as long as the current eight-game skid. When Harv Schmidt’s 1973-74 Illini lost 11 straight, John Groce was 2 years old and gasoline cost 53 cents a gallon.
Illinois’ three-point shooting percentage, which ranks 11th in the Big Ten, ahead of only Northwestern, and 310th nationally. The Illini are 138 of 445 from long range this season, and they don’t have a player who qualifies among the league leaders in the top 15. Jon Ekey’s 35.6 percent clip leads Illinois qualifiers.
Illinois’ effective field goal percentage, according to KenPom.com, which takes into account three-point shooting. Illinois’ figure ranks 295th in the country and 11th in the Big Ten.