Frazier's game keeps growing with Illini

Frazier's game keeps growing with 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 his 11 three-point attempts 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 to give Illinois (12-13, 2-10 Big Ten) a two-game losing streak heading into Sunday's 6 p.m. tip against Penn State (17-9, 7-6) at State Farm Center.

"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. Since he entered the starting lineup at Michigan on Jan. 6, Frazier is averaging 17.6 points.

"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 big plays."