UI grade vs. Penn State: A
Player of the game
Kendrick Nunn, Illinois
He was a winner in high school. All of the time. Now, he knows what it’s like to lead a college team to a victory. Illinois wouldn’t have been close without his career-high 19 points. It looks like he is just getting started.
Illinois B-, Penn State B
John Groce has shown he will shuffle the lineup if it helps win games. That could be bad news for Rayvonte Rice and Tracy Abrams, who were way off against the Nittany Lions (2 of 13). D.J. Newbill was good (19 points), Tim Frazier wasn’t (4 of 12 shooting).
Illinois B-, Penn State C
Nnanna Egwu didn’t do much for the Illini offense (two points), but he was a beast on defense with four blocked shots. Penn State was hurt by Donovan Jack’s foul problems. Brandon Taylor was effective (eight points, five boards) before being DQd.
Illinois B-, Penn State D
Coming off the bench suited Jon Ekey well (nine points, 2 of 3 on three-pointers). But it didn’t work as well for Joseph Bertrand, who was 0 for 4 and didn’t have a rebound. Penn State reserves were held to seven points.
Illinois A, Penn State C
Why such a high grade? Because John Groce’s team won on the road in a building that has been historically difficult for Illinois. Put a couple wins together and the NCAA tournament talk can kick back up. Really. Maybe the Illini should have put the freshman in the starting lineup sooner.