The Minute After: Illinois

  • 01/27/2024 6:09 pm in

Thoughts on a 70-62 loss to the Illini:

Indiana gave a great effort this afternoon in Champaign. The Hoosiers fought.

But in the end, it’s another loss and another missed opportunity to get their first signature win of the season.

Brad Underwood chose not to send a hard double or lots of extra pressure at Malik Reneau, reminiscent of his strategy last season against Trayce Jackson-Davis. So Indiana did what it does: continually feed its lefty big man off the right low block. Reneau started slow, but heated up as the game progressed. He showed off a wide array of moves and wasn’t daunted by Coleman Hawkins on his way to a game-high 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. Reneau did foul out, however, with 3:01 to go and the Hoosiers down just two points. Indiana had to look elsewhere for offense down the stretch and it wasn’t enough.

Without Kel’el Ware once more, the Hoosiers also had a chance to match up with the Illini’s smaller lineup by starting Anthony Walker instead of Payton Sparks and did just that. Indiana switched a lot in this game and it helped negate its opponent’s flow. Considering Illinois entered the game with the No. 7 offense in the country per KenPom and this was a road game, today’s contest was one of Indiana’s better defensive performances of the season. That said, Illinois didn’t have the crispest afternoon on offense. The Illini started slow and missed several open and good shots. They particularly struggled on dunks on layups (10-of-21, 47.6 percent) and from the line (17-of-26, 65.4 percent). They shot just 37.1 percent (23-of-62) from the field.

Speaking of poor shooting, the Hoosiers didn’t make a 3-pointer all game, missing all nine of their attempts. According to the broadcast, this was the first time Indiana hadn’t made a 3-pointer in a game since Feb. 25, 2010, in a home loss to Wisconsin. That was 14 years ago in Tom Crean’s second season as head coach. The Hoosiers were worse than the Illini from the line, as they hit just 12-of-22 (54.5 percent). With Indiana down two points and 54 seconds remaining in the game, Xavier Johnson missed two in a row. Justin Harmon hit a bucket in the paint to push the lead out to four with 31 seconds left, a crucial swing that effectively sealed the win for Illinois as the Hoosiers never scored again.

Johnson did appear to have more explosiveness in this game, however. He made some seriously tough buckets attacking off the bounce, which Indiana desperately needs from him. He finished 6-of-11 for 14 points but made just 2-of-7 from the line. Mackenzie Mgbako chipped in 12 points but was just 4-of-14 from the field. He continues to battle on the boards, picking up 12 which was a game-high.

Indiana’s now through this tough stretch against three of the better teams in the country, let alone the conference. But the Hoosiers went 0-for-3. So barring something miraculous, Mike Woodson’s third season in Bloomington will likely be his first without an NCAA tournament berth.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

Filed to: