Home > Uncategorized > Day after reaction: Purdue 81, Illinois 70

Day after reaction: Purdue 81, Illinois 70

Yup. Illinois is 16-9 and 6-6 in the Big Ten, just a half game ahead of Michigan and Penn State.

Would that have been surprising in November? Sure.

But by now, we’ve had a large enough sampling of this Illini squad to know what it is: a mediocre team with little on-the-court leadership, a mercurial senior point guard, post players with arms that don’t fill their sleeves  and a few handfuls of underclassmen that are without-a-doubt talented but not-yet-ready for Big Ten battles.

The Illini were beat by a better team on Sunday. JaJuan Johnson should be an All-American, and E’Twaun Moore isn’t far behind. With Demetri McCamey struggling, Illinois has no one near that caliber.

And the rest of the Boilermakers roster knows its role.

D.J. Byrd (three offensive rebounds, three assists), Lewis Jackson (10 points, five assists), Ryne Smith (eight points, six rebounds) and Kelsey Barlow (nine points, five rebounds) made the hustle-plays that complement Purdue’s two superstars.

Meanwhile, the Illini didn’t make those plays, again. This team teased when it scored 46 points on the Matto, or play-hard, chart on Thursday, enough to beat a Minnesota team with worse guard play than many mid-majors. But the law of averages came into play on Sunday, when the Illini scored 25 points. Illinois is averaging 25.2 Matto points in Big Ten play.

 

Paul, Davis continue to shine

While McCamey and Mike Tisdale struggles continue, Illini senior Mike Davis and sophomore Brandon Paul have been the pinnacles of consistency. Davis (16 points and seven rebounds) has now scored in double figures in six of the last seven games.

With McCamey deferring to his teammates, Paul has taken over as lead dog on offense. Though he still forces some jumpers, the sophomore took the ball to the basket several times against Purdue and was rewarded with a 9-for-10 day at the free-throw line. A career-high 23 points gave him an 18.7 point average over the last three games.

But Bill Cole (1-for-3 shooting in 23 minutes) and Jereme Richmond (two points, four fouls, five turnovers) didn’t have the performances, especially on the glass, that Illinois needed to beat a very good Purdue team.

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