ILL 57, COLO 49 - Rapid Reaction

A closer look at Illinois 57-49 win Friday in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

It was over when: Tracy Abrams secured an offensive rebound with a little more than a minute to play. With the Illini leading 50-46, Abrams missed a 3-point shot, but hauled in the long bounce off the rim. He whipped a pass to Paul, who made both free throws after being fouled. The Illini made 7 of 14 free throws to close out the game for the win.

Player of the game: D.J. Richardson. The senior guard made plays in the most crucial stretch of the game, hitting a 3 and forcing a steal that led to a 3 by Paul. The Illini went from being down two to up 48-44 and held on for the win. Richardson finished with 14 points, five rebounds, one steal and an assist.

X-factor: Abrams. The sophomore guard played one of his best games of the season, finishing with 13 points, six assists, four rebounds and two steals. He hit a 3 going into halftime and was the only Illini to score for almost 12 minutes to start the second half.

The takeaway: The second half wasn't pretty, but it doesn't matter now. Illinois made it out of a streaky shootout alive, surviving to play Miami in the third round Sunday. The first half offered a best case scenario -- with the team hitting 3s and attacking the basket on offense and being mentally locked in on defense. The second half was a dreadful reversal of play. Missing 15 of their first 16 shots, the Illini looked lost. Call it resiliency or toughness or frustrating or all of the above -- Illinois took a big punch -- a 21-2 Colorado run -- and fought back to win. Now Miami is next, and the Hurricanes looked great Friday. If the Illini can play the way they did in the first half and keep it close, they stand a chance. But anything less than the way they played in the first half Friday will result in a loss.

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