Closing Costs

In an all-too-familiar ending, the Illini can't stop the Hoosiers late in the game and suffer another second-half letdown to fall 80-74.

For many, it has become a broken record. Illinois holds a solid lead only to watch it wither away as they add one to the loss column.

All game, the Illini traded blows with the visiting Hoosiers of Indiana, but when it counted down the stretch, Indiana finished and Illinois didn't. It's as simple as that.

The Illini held a 72-67 lead following a big three from Kendrick Nunn late in the game, but Indiana finished on a 13-2 run in the final minutes of the game to take the wind out of Illinois' sails and leave Champaign with a crucial road win.

Illinois got off to a fast start, jumping out to an early 11-2 lead fueled by a trio of Kendrick Nunn threes in the first four minutes. However, the ending was just as frustrating as the start was exciting.

Kendrick Nunn was impressive all game, shooting a blistering 9-13 from the field (6-10 from 3PT) and notching 24 points to come up just one shy of his career high set in the previous game against Northwestern.

The Illini also got a surprising 19 from former starter Ahmad Starks on 5-10 shooting (5-8 from 3 PT), and Malcolm Hill joined those two in double figures with 12 of his own.

Freshman forward Leron Black has struggled somewhat as of late, but the high-motor Black finished with one of his better outings against a Power 5 conference opponent with 8 points and 9 rebounds.

But two of Illinois' five starters finished the game scoreless. Guard Aaron Cosby finished 0-5 from the field (all five attempts from 3PT), and senior center Nnnanna Egwu, who fouled out for just the second time this season, finished scoreless, taking just one shot and collecting only two rebounds.

No matter how good Egwu's defense is, when he goes scoreless on one shot attempt and only gets two rebounds, the Illini are in deep trouble.

Nothing about Jaylon Tate is flashy, but his nine points and 5 assists to just one turnover is a glimmer of hope at the point guard position moving forward as confidence in Tate is growing.

In previous years, Yogi Ferrell has haunted the Illini. The senior point guard for Indiana went just 1-9 from the field, but like a true veteran, finished with an impressive 9 assists to just one turnover.

Two hoosiers, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams finished with 21 apiece, including some huge buckets from Williams in the final minutes.

For Illini fans, the second half collapses are all-too-familiar. Illinois has blown leads against Oregon and Michigan, and got embarrassed in the second half at Ohio State.

Illinois has been hard-pressed to replace star guard Rayvonte Rice after he went down with a broken hand, and his presence and leadership was sorely missed in the final minutes of the loss to Indiana.

Illinois now moves to 12-7 on the season and 2-4 in the Big Ten after suffering their first home loss of the season. Purdue (3-2 in B1G play) comes to town on Wednesday in a game the Illini desperately need in order to start righting the ship.


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