Welcome to “Good Morning, Illini Nation,” your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He’ll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood’s team:
Tuesday's 117-65 blowout win against Division II Lindenwood saw Illinois shoot better than 60 percent in both halves. That continued the Illini's streak to five straight halves shooting at least 60 percent dating back to the second half against The Citadel and including the team's other blowout of Hampton.
"Now, I think we’ve found a rhythm," Illinois coach Brad Underwood said after the win against Lindenwood. "So much of our offense in the past has been predicate on our turnovers and forcing them. Now we’re starting to play pretty good offense. We’re running good offense, and we’re sharing the ball. When we can play with that pace and that speed, it was fun to see."
Illinois' stats against Lindenwood count for their season totals. They don't count when it comes to advanced metrics like the KenPom ratings because the Lions are a Division II team. Still, those metrics outline what Underwood mentioned after Tuesday's game.
The Illini are forcing turnovers on 17.7 percent of their opponents' possessions. That ranks them 259th nationally — significantly lower than Underwood's first two seasons when Illinois ranked fourth and 24th, respectively.
The flip side of that is a much better team effective field goal percentage at 53.2 percent, which doesn't even include the Lindenwood stats. Effective field goal percentage differs from conventional field goal percentage by taking into account the extra value of a made three-pointer. Illinois's 53.2 effective field goal percentage ranks is the program's highest since the national runner-up season in 2004-05.
Individually, eight Illinois regulars are shooting at least 40 percent from the field. Sophomore forward Giorgi Bezhanishvili has the high mark for the team at 60 percent, while senior Andres Feliz is the top guard at 52.2 percent.