Frazier's monster game not enough for Illini

Frazier's monster game not enough for Illini

CHAMPAIGN — Trent Frazier three-pointers at the end of the shot clock.

That’s what Illinois’ offense became in the second half Thursday night against Wisconsin. Not much else worked.

Frazier came through repeatedly. The 6-foot-1 guard knocked down 7 of 11 three-pointers and set a new career high with 32 points.

But it wasn’t the type of offense Brad Underwood wants. His system thrives on movement — a never-ending string of cutting and passing.

Illinois didn’t manage that against the Badgers. Too often the ball found its way back to Frazier’s hands with time running out. The freshman lefty delivered multiple times, but it wasn’t enough as Wisconsin topped the Illini 78-69 for the season sweep and its 13th straight victory in the series.

“I hate running offense like that,” Underwood said. “It’s not who I am and not what I want to be, but when you’re 2 of 13 from the other spots (from three-point range) you’ve got to kind of ride the hot hand so to speak. … I don’t like running offense like I did (against the Badgers), but that’s what we were relegated to.”

Even so, Underwood called Frazier’s performance “spectacular.” Thursday’s game was his second this season with seven made three-pointers, tying him with just Kevin Turner as the only Illini with two games with that many threes in a single season.

Frazier’s 32-point performance was just as noteworthy. Only two other Illinois freshman — Deon Thomas in 1990 with 34 points and Kiwane Harris in 1994 with 33 — scored more in a single game.

“I caught a rhythm (Thursday) and had a flow going,” Frazier said. “It’s my teammates. They tell me to keep shooting the ball. … It means a lot. My teammates trust me that I can make the right play — make a play for the other guys or make a play for me. They believe in me as a freshman.”

So does Underwood. He compared Frazier to former Kansas State guard Denis Clemente, who he coached when he was on Frank Martin’s staff with the Wildcats.

“(Clemente) had that speed and quickness,” Underwood said. “Everybody feared it, and it’s very hard to guard.”

Wisconsin coach Greg Gard was certainly wary of Frazier’s quickness. The Badgers hedged on ball screens more in the second half in an attempt to slow Frazier down, but did so sparingly.

“I was a little leery of doing that too consistently because he’s so quick with the ball,” Gard said. “He made some tough, tough shots at times that were able to keep them right there with us. … He made some big plays. Fortunately we had some guys that did, too.”

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znelson2 wrote on February 09, 2018 at 1:02 am

Moonpie, before you post something here (because I know you will), can you please explain to me why you are always unenthusiastic and pessimistic about the teams no matter what? Why do you just look at the records and jump to conclusions? The basketball team is better than the record indicates. Also, why do you call Josh Whitman the "inexperienced AD" instead of referring to him by name? Why do you call News-Gazette sports staff "sportywriters"? What would need to happen for you to be happy with the status of Fighting Illini sports? Why do you keep trying to make irritating comments instead of working for another publication with more well-reputed teams, like you suggested for the staff working for this paper?

BogieRedmonfan wrote on February 09, 2018 at 12:02 pm

The News Gazette comments section is the only place Moonpie can get published.



billbtri5 wrote on February 09, 2018 at 4:02 pm

Wisconsin by the numbers:

5 straight losses coming into this game

13 consecutive wins over Illinois

11-15 overall

4-9 in Conference