Skip to content

Illinois falls just short as top two scorers have off nights

Mar 24, 2013, 11:49 PM EST

Illinois v Miami Getty Images

With a new head coach and picked to finish ninth in the Big Ten preseason coaches poll, Illinois likely would have signed up for a season that ended just five points short of a Sweet 16 appearance back in October.

But that does nothing soothe the pain of the Fighting Illini (23-13) in the aftermath of their 63-59 loss to 2-seed Miami, a game that was there for the taking thanks to Illinois’ perimeter defense and work on the offensive glass.

A team that lacked interior muscle all season long managed to grab 16 offensive rebounds, outscoring the Hurricanes 21-8 in second-chance points and finishing the game with a 38-35 rebounding advantage. However Miami guard Rion Brown scored 21 points off the bench, and key free throws down the stretch sealed the deal for the Hurricanes (29-6).

Brandon Paul scored 18 points (8-of-20 FG) to lead Illinois, but fellow senior D.J. Richardson had one of the roughest nights in his four-year career. Richardson, averaging 12.5 points per game entering Sunday, scored five points on 1-of-11 shooting. Even with Larkin (17 points, 5-of-12 FG) and Scott (six points, 2-of-8 FG) struggling for Miami, Illinois needed both of their senior guards to perform well if they were to win.

That didn’t happen, leaving the door open not only for an “unsung” hero such as Brown but also a dubious out-of-bounds call in the game’s final minute.

But even with the loss and the pending loss of four seniors from the rotation (Paul, Richardson, Tyler Griffey and Sam McLaurin) there are positives to be taken from Illinois’ performance with an eye towards the future. One positive was the play of Nnanna Egwu, who tallied the first double-double of his career with 12 points and 12 rebounds and will figure prominently in Illinois’ plans going forward.

The first season of the John Groce era is one Illinois can build upon, but the immediate thoughts will be about what could have been.

Raphielle also writes for the NBE Basketball Report and can be followed on Twitter at @raphiellej.

Latest Posts
  1. Late Night Snacks: No. 6 Virginia, No. 17 Maryland pick up wins

    Dec 21, 2014, 8:22 PM EST

    VMI v Maryland Getty Images

    Virginia limited Harvard to 27 points, Maryland won at Oklahoma State, and Georgia picked up a solid home win.

  2. No. 17 Maryland moves to 11-1 with win at Oklahoma State

    Dec 21, 2014, 7:04 PM EST

    Jake Layman AP

    Could the Terps be the second-best team in the Big Ten? At the very least they’ve earned their place in the conversation.

  3. ACC suspends Louisville junior forward Montrezl Harrell one game

    Dec 21, 2014, 5:31 PM EST

    Ohio State v Louisville Getty Images

    Harrell was assessed a flagrant 2 foul in Saturday’s win over Western Kentucky.

  4. South Carolina coaching staff dons special holiday sweaters (PHOTO)

    Dec 21, 2014, 4:42 PM EST

    Frank Martin (Scott Phillips) Frank Martin (Scott Phillips)

    Coaches donning festive holiday sweaters doesn’t happen all that often in college basketball.

  5. Brad Stevens on Indiana speculation: ‘I’m the head coach of the Boston Celtics. This is the job.’

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:46 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Brad Stevens left Butler in 2013, agreeing to a six-year deal with the Boston Celtics, but that will not stop his name being linked to one specific college job.

  6. New Year’s Resolutions: Ohio State Buckeyes

    Dec 21, 2014, 3:01 PM EST

    AP AP

    The Buckeyes are 9-2, dropping both of their key non-conferences games against ranked opponents.

  7. Harvard’s first half offensive struggles tie unwanted NCAA record

    Dec 21, 2014, 1:43 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Harvard did not set the record for lowest field goal percentage or lowest first-half points, but the Crimson did tie an NCAA record on Sunday afternoon.

  8. Jim Boeheim and Jay Wright want to keep Syracuse-Villanova rivalry going

    Dec 21, 2014, 1:15 PM EST

    Getty Images Getty Images

    The Orange and Wildcats have split a home-and-home series since the old Big East disbanded several years ago.

  9. Louisville’s Montrezl Harrell apologizes for ejection (VIDEO)

    Dec 21, 2014, 11:15 AM EST

    AP AP

    The Louisville forward spoke about the incident that took place at the end of the first half against Western Kentucky following the game.

  10. Ben Simmons throws an alley-oop to himself off the backboard (VIDEO)

    Dec 21, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    Kelly Kline/Under Armour Kelly Kline/Under Armour

    The nation’s top recruit also dropped 37 points in a win for Montverde Academy (Florida)

  11. No. 16 Washington hangs on to beat No. 15 Oklahoma in Las Vegas

    Dec 21, 2014, 12:10 AM EST

    Lorenzo Romar Lorenzo Romar

    With pieces that fit together better than last season’s 17-15 squad, the Huskies are off to a 10-0 start.

  12. George Mason beats preseason MAAC favorite Iona (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 10:26 PM EST

    George Mason Patriots vs the Old Dominion Monarchs George Mason Patriots vs the Old Dominion Monarchs

    George Mason’s last win over a Division I opponent prior to Saturday came against another MAAC program, Manhattan, on November 29.

  13. POSTERIZED: Notre Dame’s Demetrius Jackson dunks on Purdue 7-footer (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    Demetrius Jackson (AP Photo) Demetrius Jackson (AP Photo)

    Jackson scored 22 points, with two coming on an emphatic dunk on Purdue freshman Isaac Haas.

  14. Late Night Snacks: Villanova survives Syracuse while UNC, SMU get big wins

    Dec 20, 2014, 8:41 PM EST

    Jayvaughn Pinkston (Getty Images) Getty Images

    It’s already been a busy day in college hoops, with two buzzer-beaters and two ranked teams already going down.

  15. Chris Thomas, Malcolm Riley lead Texas Southern past No. 25 Michigan State

    Dec 20, 2014, 7:57 PM EST

    Mike Davis Mike Davis

    While Michigan State’s 4-for-21 night from three didn’t help matters, Texas Southern shot better than 53 percent from the field.

  16. Report: Former Marquette guard/forward transferring to Iowa State

    Dec 20, 2014, 7:18 PM EST

    Deonte Burton, Tim Coleman Deonte Burton, Tim Coleman

    Burton was one of two sophomores to leave the Marquette program earlier this month.

  17. No. 1 Kentucky dismantles UCLA

    Dec 20, 2014, 5:46 PM EST

    kentucky ucla AP

    Kentucky completely embarrassed UCLA on Saturday.

  18. Wake Forest freshman guard suspended six games for violation of NCAA rules

    Dec 20, 2014, 5:04 PM EST

    cd0ymzcznguwzdbhnduynddiytjhm2yyzthlmtjjotqwyyznpwrmm2riyzjmntcznwyymwm1yzy1zmqxndg1ztbimtdi AP

    Mitchell Wilbekin could miss up to six games, and classmates Cornelius Hudson and Rondale Watson missed Saturday’s game for conduct detrimental to the team.

  19. Rayvonte Rice gives Illinois ‘Braggin’ Rights’ for a second consecutive year (VIDEO)

    Dec 20, 2014, 4:31 PM EST

    Rayvonte Rice, Joseph Young AP

    Illinois has now won two straight in the series, thanks to Rice’s three-pointer as time expired.