7 Points In 28 Seconds


Robert
Dec 3, 2020
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10 Comments

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That was basically the game. I'm not saying we would have won if Baylor went scoreless in those 28 seconds, but that was what put the game away. Someone somewhere took a quick bathroom back with 8:45 remaining and Illinois trailing 56-51 and they returned from the bathroom to find us down 12. That had to be an all-time what-did-I-miss?

Here's that part of the official box score:

08:32 BAY - 51-58 Made Layup By BAY #0 Thamba, Flo On The Fast Break
08:32 BAY - Assist By BAY #10 Flagler, Adam
08:32 ILL - Personal Foul On ILL #5 Curbelo, Andre; Shooting Foul.
08:32 BAY - Missed Free Throw By BAY #0 Thamba, Flo (1OF1)
08:31 BAY - Offensive Rebound By BAY #45 Mitchell, Davion
08:20 BAY - 51-61 Made Second-Chance 3PT Stepback Jumper By BAY #45 Mitchell, Davion
08:07 ILL - Lostball Turnover By ILL #20 Williams, Da'monte
08:07 BAY - Steal By BAY #24 Mayer, Matthew
08:04 BAY - 51-63 Made Layup By BAY #31 Teague, Macio On The Fast Break Off An Opponent Turnover

At 08:32, down by 5. By 08:04 down by 12. Ballgame.

Again, even before that Baylor burst you could feel the game slipping away. They had been the better team with better defense but we were right there, mostly thanks to Giorgi. So without that, maybe Baylor wins 77-73 or something. But with that Baylor burst, ballgame.

I still have the box score open and it's fairly ugly. OK, really ugly. Baylor is the best defense we'll face all season, but still, there's a lot of WERF here:

  • Kofi played only 17 minutes and had 7 points and 4 rebounds.
  • Ayo shot 6-18.
  • Miller was 2-11 including 0-6 from three.
  • Trent 8 points, 5 turnovers.

And perhaps the worst stat, as Underwood pointed out in the postgame press conference:

Baylor offensive rebounds: 16
Kofi and Giorgi defensive rebounds combined: 4

Aaand... scene. The shooting was bad, but really, it's all right there in that stat. Kofi and Giorgi played 42 minutes and 9 seconds and grabbed four missed Baylor shots.

It's funny: this was billed as 1st-team All American vs. 1st-team All American. And then both Ayo and Jared Butler shot 6-18 from the field (Ayo scored 18, Butler 12). The difference? Baylor's bench stepped up (Flagler 18 points, Mayer 7 points 7 rebounds, that guy with the really long name who I'll just call JTT had 9 points and 9 rebounds) and that handed them the win.

I think they're definitely a top-5 team. We're... not yet. We have the pieces to get there, and the flashes we saw from Curbelo tonight combined with the flashes we saw from Miller last week are quite exciting to think about once they both have a dozen games under their belt, but we're just not a top-5 team yet. (And that's probably OK.)

Really, given the stats, I'm surprised it was as close as it was. Ayo was 6-18 and Miller was 2-11 so that's two starting guards missing 21 of 29 shots. Tell me before the game that Ayo and Miller will shoot 8-29 and Kofi will be in foul trouble and only put up 7 & 4 and I would have guessed we would have been down 13 at halftime with Baylor emptying the bench at the 5:00 mark. We did some good things and hung right in there.

But then Baylor scored 7 points in 28 seconds and put the game away.

+ Since I got to be there tonight, I feel like I should try to describe what it was like inside the building.

For starters, the Illinois game was twice as loud as the Gonzaga-West Virginia game. This was mostly due to the Ohio bench.

The Ohio bench set the tone for the game on Friday and they rode that energy from start to finish, nearly knocking off the Illini. Well, from the opening tip tonight, the Illinois bench started the "dee-fense (clap-clap)" cheer (just like Ohio did). And that led the Baylor bench to get loud, even bringing out the same "dee-fense" cheer later on. Gonzaga and West Virginia? Their benches would cheer at a made basket or a stop and then go quiet. Baylor and Illinois? Noise start to finish. Or, at least, noise start to Baylor going up 16 in the second half.

Other than that, it's just really bizarre to see a game between top-5 schools be so energy-less. I couldn't help but think how many Illini fans would have made the trip. Indianapolis is a long way from Baylor, so I feel like the fans would have been heavily orange and blue. Like, 10-to-1 ratio.

Of course, if there was no Covid, this game would have been played in Florida as it was originally scheduled. And it would have been Rutgers-Baylor, as it was originally scheduled. So forgive my imagination here.

Let's see, what else...

I guess the biggest difference is hearing one guy say one thing to one player during a quiet moment. Orlando Antigua wants to tell Ayo that he's on Butler now? You can hear it plain as day "Ayo, you have 12". Andre Curbelo loses his guy and gets into the lane? You could hear some Illini walkon say "nice, Belo". And that's me in the upper deck at the end, super-socially-distanced away from any player or coach, hearing that plain as day. Down on the court, it's like a high school game in a mostly-empty gym.

+ Twas nice to see 2019 Giorgi again. Welcome back. If we can get Kofi and Giorgi firing together, that's an engine that can really make this team go. I needed to toss some positivity in there because...

+ Time for some fear and worry.

Missouri beat #21 Oregon tonight on a neutral court. They've climbed from 60 to 46 in KenPom, we've fallen from 16 to 24. So now I'm really worried about an 0-3 stretch in these three "high major" non-conference games. We just lost the one on the neutral court and the other two are away games. We'll beat Tennessee Martin but worst-case-scenario 4-3 non-conference (and falling out of the top-25) is going to keep me up tonight.

Now, we can just as easily beat Duke and Missouri and enter the Big Ten schedule #7 with a loss to #2 (or #1). So I'm not tossing out a prediction. I'm simply letting my worry brain speak. Missouri is better than I thought, and I doubt Duke loses two straight at home, so I'm frightened of 4-3 and unranked while Iowa is #3. Make the bad thoughts stop.

+ Adam Miller against North Carolina A&T and Chicago State: 8-13 from three.

Adam Miller against Ohio and Baylor: 0-10 from three.

I hear defense matters.

+ At this point I just really want the Duke game to get here (no media allowed, so I'll be watching that one on my couch). Beat Duke and I don't have to worry about any of the things I'm worrying about right now. This is the kind of game (especially against #2) you can quickly chalk up to "everyone had an off night at the same time".

So I'm going to go to sleep with positive thoughts in my head. Baylor is really good, and Baylor beat us down in the second half. Let's quickly put that aside and focus on what we all wanted here: 1-1 in the Baylor and Duke games. Do that and I'll continue thinking about hanging that Big Ten Champs banner. And then really focus on a deep Tournament run.

Putting this one behind me. Beat Duke.

Comments

Ellisrt1031 on December 3, 2020 @ 07:14 AM

Giorgi had a nice offensive game and had some good fortune. Makes me feel he can make some contribution. Defensively and boards, not so much. I was impressed the freshmen were generally aggressive and although results were not great, Curbelo offensive end excepted, I think they will get better and better. Baylor was just more talented and better. Would like to avoid them in the tournament.

illinizeeman on December 3, 2020 @ 07:56 AM

Everything reverts to the mean. Miller's 3pt shooting pctg is still good even with the 0-10 streak.

Ferguson Powell Smith has a Huge Head on December 3, 2020 @ 09:13 AM

Baylor's defense is easily the best in the country, but what was the game plan on offense? Very little movement, virtually zero effort was made to get Ayo open off the ball. Especially when it became apparent he was going to have a hard time making things happen off the dribble.

I think a bitter loss like this early in the season is good. We played very poorly by the standards this team has set for themselves, and we were still in the game until Baylor pulled away in that 28 second stretch.

I understand Trent's value as a defender, but he is a liability on offense against good teams. Curbelo was impressive and should get more minutes going forward.

escot on December 3, 2020 @ 09:21 AM

I don't think Illinois had a "bad shooting day". I think it was almost all due to Baylor's defense. They pressured the ball (half court) the entire game. And all the screens and pseudo-screens Illinois does on the perimeter don't do much when the defense can switch on every screen and not have a matchup problem.

Considering how good Baylor's defense was and how many offensive rebounds they got, I am amazed we kept it close for so long.

mmyers74 on December 3, 2020 @ 09:43 AM

I wish this game was decided in those :30. (I do understand your meaning and yes.) But play this game 100x, and we lose 97 (as it stands today.)

Baylor's D is what everyone should aspire to be. Best "help D" in the land. Our coaches do not teach this well.

Please stop allowing Kofi or Giorgi to ever defend the perimeter. Ever. Giorgi. Kofi. No matter what... do. Not. Go. Out. There. The D will correct if you don't go. Others fill gaps when you go. Leave that AS THE GAP.

We have tremendous talent. We have a good team.

Still top 4 B1G.

mmyers74 on December 3, 2020 @ 09:43 AM

I wish this game was decided in those :30. (I do understand your meaning and yes.) But play this game 100x, and we lose 97 (as it stands today.)

Baylor's D is what everyone should aspire to be. Best "help D" in the land. Our coaches do not teach this well.

Please stop allowing Kofi or Giorgi to ever defend the perimeter. Ever. Giorgi. Kofi. No matter what... do. Not. Go. Out. There. The D will correct if you don't go. Others fill gaps when you go. Leave that AS THE GAP.

We have tremendous talent. We have a good team.

Still top 4 B1G.

illinizeeman on December 3, 2020 @ 10:27 AM

Everything reverts to the mean. Miller's 3pt shooting pctg is still good even with the 0-10 streak.

IBFan on December 3, 2020 @ 10:40 AM

Let’s be honest, Ayo looked like the 3rd, 4th, 5th best gaurd out there. Watch how many times he lost control, couldn’t turn corner, bad pass, bad shot. Baylor has a great defense but they made Ayo look mediocre, not great but just missing his shots but like less athletic, less quick, less talented. This game was bigger than he was which we really haven’t seen. Fast break drives? Finishing at the rim? Shooting? Emotion? Leadership? Love Ayo but when your best player does not show he belongs in the NBA and you are playing a veteran team with pro players you’ll lose.

Dix on December 3, 2020 @ 11:35 AM

Agreed. And this just punctuates Robert’s fear going into Duke (and to a lesser extent Mizzou), and the point about the energy. I fear that Ayo’s game relies in part on energy that you don’t get from crowdless games. He’s has to find a way to be effective because every team is going throw their best at him (and Kofi), and we won’t survive these next two games on a diet of Giorgi and the freshmen.

ktcesw on December 3, 2020 @ 12:57 PM

Loved how this ream played against a very strong defense. They worked to force Ayo to give up the ball and, with the possible exception of MSU, I can't see many teams that have the necessary components to successfully do that. I do think that Kofi and GB need to pass the ball out more. We go to them often and they can take some of the physical pressure off of themselves by passing the ball out and allowing three point shooters to be a little more comfortable. Both are just a little too intent on getting their shots. Both Curbelo and Miller are learning what they can be successful with against good teams and what they may need to shelve for this season. I would like to see Hawkins look for his shot a little more. Baylor is an excellent team that we traded blows with for much of the night. Great preparation for a tough B1G!

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