Illini grade vs. Northwestern: C

Illini grade vs. Northwestern: C

Our recap from the Illini's 72-68 loss to Northwestern:

What happened: Illinois whiffed on multiple opportunities to put Northwestern away in the final minutes of the second half. Given enough chances in overtime, the Wildcats prevailed in a tight Big Ten opener.

What it means: The Illini are still far from a finished product. Some questionable calls aside, they were still whistled for too many fouls and didn’t help their own cause with more than a dozen turnovers for the eighth straight game.

What’s next: Illinois (6-2, 0-1 Big Ten) returns to action with its second conference game of the weekend at 7 p.m. Sunday at State Farm Center against Maryland. The Terrapins (6-3, 0-1) lost Friday night at home to Purdue.

Player of the game: Northwestern guard Scottie Lindsey

With Bryant McIntosh needing 14 shots to get his 14 points, the Wildcats needed Lindsey to be the workhorse on the offensive end. His 22 points, including two free throws as the go-ahead points in overtime, were key.

Backcourt

Illinois: A

Northwestern: A

Combine the Illini's defense on McIntosh — it was smothering — plus a career-best performance by Te'Jon Lucas, and the Illinois guards did plenty to put their team in position to win.

Frontcourt

Illinois: D+

Northwestern: B+

Michael Finke was a non-factor on the offensive end for the second straight game, and Leron Black forgetting to dribble when moving his feet has become a recurring issue.

Bench

Illinois: B-

Northwestern: D

While the Wildcats are not a deep team, the Illini continue to rely on their reserves. Like Aaron Jordan, who was in double figures for the sixth game this season with 10 points.

Overall

Illinois: C

Northwestern: C+

The Illini committed fewer turnovers and fouls in the second half than they did in an ugly first 20 minutes. That's good. Not capitalizing on chances to win in regulation? Not as good.

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illinifaningeorgia wrote on December 02, 2017 at 9:12 am

With 19 turnovers and 17% shooting from 3-point range (and a poor 41% overall shooting), I would give the team an overall grade of a D.

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