While the final score ended up being 64-58, the game was still in doubt with just 30 seconds to go as OSU's center Kosta Koufos missed two late free throws with the Illini trailing by just three points. But the Illini never got the ball back for a game-tying shot as they failed to block out and secure possession of the miss. The rest was history as David Lighty grabbed the rebound, was fouled, and coolly knocked down two free throws.
In just about every loss this year, it seems that it has been the little things that have kept the Illini from tasting victory. And when you struggle to shoot the ball the way this team has all season, the little things matter.
On the plus side, Junior Rodney Alexander had his coming out party, scoring a team high 20 points. Senior Brian Randle chipped in 13, but on 6-18 shooting. This group desperately needs someone who's aggressive on the offensive end of the floor, other than Trent Meacham, who finished with 12 points. A performance like the one Alexander gave last night is needed on a more consistent basis, not just from Alexander, but from all the Illini.
Illinois was without the team's leading scorer, Shaun Pruitt, who was held out by Bruce Weber. In a brief comment, Coach Weber said the decision was a team matter and nothing more would be said on the issue. Freshman Mike Tisdale started in his place.
In the post game, Weber stated his team played hard and didn't quit. With the Illini at 9-11, and 1-6 in the conference, playing hard and not quitting is seen as bright spots. Illinois is off until Sunday when Northwestern comes to Assembly Hall for a 7:00 p.m. game.