College/Prep Sports Reporter

Scott Richey is a reporter covering college basketball at The News-Gazette. His email is srichey@news-gazette.com, and you can follow him on Twitter (@srrichey).

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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.

Illinois escaped with a 78-70 overtime win Tuesday night against Nicholls State. That’s how Brad Underwood characterized it. Here’s a deeper dive into some of the analytics into what happened and why (with the caveat it’s one game’s worth of statistics):

— Let’s start with the good. The Illini crushed it when it came to offensive rebounds, with 20 of their 53 total rebounds coming off their own misses. That meant an offensive rebounding rate of 54.1 percent to rank first among all the teams that played on the opening day of the season.

Sophomore guard Alan Griffin didn’t play enough minutes to qualify, but his aggression on the offensive glass was notable and his individual offensive rebounding percentage would have also led the country. The problem was all of Griffin’s production came in the first half.

— Now for some bad. Illinois’ 23 turnovers against Nicholls State were a problem. Clearly. The individual turnover rate (percentage of player possessions that end in a turnover) for some of the Illini was also troublesome. Ayo Dosunmu, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Benjamin Bosmans-Verdonk, Kipper Nichols and Da’Monte Williams all had a turnover rate higher than 32 percent. Nichols’ was 78.1 percent.

— Dosunmu followed up a disappointing performance in Illinois’ exhibition game against Lewis with a fairly efficient night against Nicholls State. The sophomore guard had a 77.3 effective field goal percentage and 75.8 true shooting percentage. Effective field goal percentage takes into account the extra value of a made three-pointer, while true shooting percentage also incorporates trips to the free throw line.

— Illinois’ lack of bench production against Nicholls State was rather glaring. Griffin had seven of the Illini’s nine bench points. Underwood also didn’t use his bench much in the second half. All five starters played at least 71.1 percent of the possible minutes. That’s a fairly stark contrast to the 2018-19 season where only Dosunmu and Trent Frazier topped more than 70 percent in that particular metric.

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