Illinois (13-9,3-6) went on the road yesterday to play Penn State (12-10, 4-5) in what was the ultimate “There Are Two Halves of a Basketball Game.” Per usual away games, Illinois went down early, and let the lead grow and grow, with seemingly nothing they could do about it. Penn State started from the field 7-7, found their way to a 13-2 run, and an eventual 45-25 lead at half time. Yup, you read that correctly. To one of the worst offensive teams in the conference, Illinois allowed 45 points in half number one.

The second half would be very different. A 9-0 run cut the lead to 12 with about eleven minutes left, single digits with seven minutes, a 4 game with three minutes, and eventually down to a 3 point game. But the comeback would fall short, and despite a 27-10 run at one point, holding PSU scoreless for several minutes, the Illini would fall on the road.

Player Notes:

Te’jon: I would say that tonight Te’jon probably looked like a freshman more than any other game thus far, with a couple of tough moments, including a brutal play down the stretch where Illinois needed a bucket, but Te’jon charged into the paint recklessly for an offensive foul. He was a -7 in 25 minutes and shot 2-8 from the field. BUT, still with all that being said, I don’t see how it’s even an argument if he should be out there instead of Tate:

Was this play poor point guard abilities, the head coach not having a plan, or was the play to simply dribble out the entire shot clock then miss a contested layup? Let us know.

Hill: Malcolm was really the only guy that showed up in the first half. He put up 19 total points on 7-15 from the field and was huge on helping the Illini comeback in the second half. Due to Illinois’ incredible lack of ability to execute from the field for several minutes at times, I’ve always held the opinion that Malcolm should be looking to put up 30 a game and lead the B1G in scoring. He can create his effective step-back shot and is a pretty good penetrator to the rim. When you really don’t have a flowing offense (see GIF above), you have to give the ball to your best player, which is what should be happening when down 20 on the road.

Mav: I’ve only been doing these recap’s since mid-season, but I already feel like a broken record for when I talk about what Mav does during games. Decent 4-7 shooting, but yet, only 1 rebound in 22 minutes. It was 30 minutes into the game before he secured that rebound. If you’re the starting center on a basketball team, boards have to be of priority. Guys like Kipper, Leron, and Finke picked it up in the rebound department tonight, but Mav has got to be more physical down the stretch here on defense.

Overall: I’m having a hard time really wrapping my head around this one. We go down 20 points, fight back to within one possession, and lose. When Illinois was closing the gap, I was actually feeling really confident we would complete the comeback. I thought with the momentum we had going for us it would only be a matter of time until the lead, and the game was ours. But a couple of blown defensive assignments and it was game over. You can’t go down 20 points on the road and expect to win a game, not in the B1G. PSU definitely showed their youth and immaturity in the second half, as they did not know how to handle the ball with that huge lead.

You’d like to think that if this game is at home, Illinois doesn’t come out incredibly flustered like they always do on the road, settles in and doesn’t go down by 20, ultimately winning the game. But when you’ve won a single road game in the last two years (Rutgers….in triple overtime), this has become the ordinary for Illinois.

What’s next: This Tuesday Illinois will welcome Wisconsin to the State Farm Center.

We leave you with another entertaining, microcosm of a season, Jaylon Tate dribbling GIF:

 

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