Illini get second chance after 'shellacking'

Illini get second chance after 'shellacking'

CHAMPAIGN — Trent Frazier had an almost visceral reaction when recalling what he and his Illinois teammates were feeling when they watched the game film from what Illini coach Brad Underwood called a 75-50 "shellacking" at Wisconsin last month.

The Badgers ran what amounted to a layup line offense in their 25-point victory. Superior ball movement created those opportunities — opportunities Illinois struggled to slow down.

"Everything was so lackadaisical," Frazier said. "That game didn't show who we really were. Guys weren't getting back. We didn't play defense. We didn't help each other out. A lack of focus is what I think it really was."

Veteran guard Mark Alstork didn't pull any punches either.

"It was pathetic," Alstork said of the loss to the Badgers. "Our energy level as a group wasn't there. We didn't fight. We didn't show our defensive abiltiies. We didn't do what we do."

Illinois gets a second chance against Wisconsin with an 8 p.m. tip today State Farm Center. The loss to the Badgers remains fresh — a feeling reinforced by the prep for the rematch.

"We're just really hungry for these guys," said Frazier, who was one of just two Illini in double figures along with Leron Black the first time the teams met. "We're (ticked) off about that game. Watching the film, we really didn't want to come out and play that game. We're a different team. We're going to get that one (today)."

The Illini's feelings about their first go-round with Wisconsin puts them on the same level as their coach. Underwood called his team "lifeless" in that Big Ten road loss.

"That's the one game all year that we've not been very good — at either end," Underwood said. "They're a team that literally just made a couple passes and then drove us. We fouled them and we didn't guard the ball very well.

"Those are all things we have to do better to guard them. There wasn't much right in the first game for us. That was from a competitive point of view and not just an X and O point of view."

Underwood made it a point to credit Wisconsin for the win. What the Badgers did — from Brevin Pritzl hitting three three-pointers, Khalil Iverson finishing at the rim and Brad Davison turning dribble drives into free throw opportunities — was more than cause for a 25-point loss.

Watching his players watch the game film, though, was revealing.

"There was a sense of disbelief that was actually them out there trying to play," Underwood said. "I don't want to discredit Wisconsin because they were very good, but the guys I know didn't show up that night."

Last month's loss to Wisconsin followed a different route than Illinois' other losses just in terms of margin of defeat. But for a team that Underwood said has "self inflicted enough on ourselves" this season, the Illini did so in that case with their energy and effort.

"Just mental toughness," Alstork said was important, while adding he needs to be more poised and more of a leader. "I'll be more vocal and whatever I need for this team to continue to get better in those types of situations."