Upon Further Review: Illinois

After going down to the wire in losses to Iowa and Michigan, Indiana was hit with a 21-2 Illinois run to start the game and was blown out by Bruce Weber's team. HoosierNation.com breaks down the game, including what we found most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Nick Williams. The good news is that Nick Williams scored 10 points in the game's first 13 minutes. The bad news is the rest of the Hoosier team scored two points on 1-of-10 from the field during that stretch and committed nine turnovers. As a result, Indiana found itself in a 32-12 hole and without a chance of being competitive for a third straight Big Ten game. The start of the game was critical for the Hoosiers if they had any hopes of having a chance late, and Williams was the only one who appeared to be up to the challenge.

Biggest Surprise… Devan Dumes being benched to start the game. In a game where the first 5-10 minutes was critical, Dumes' absence made it an even more difficult assignment for Tom Crean's team. While the reason for Dumes sitting was relatively harmless – he was late for the team bus when it was leaving for the arena – it was a decision Crean had to make as he continues to instill a level of discipline and accountability into the program that was lacking before his arrival.

Things didn't get any better for Dumes once we he did enter the game four and a half minutes in and with the Hoosiers trailing 13-2. Trent Meachum and Demetri McCamey hit back-to-back 3-pointers to extend the lead to 17, and Dumes then went down with a badly sprained right ankle when he landed on Richard Semrau's foot. Dumes was only able to return to the IU sidelines with the aid of crutches, and he was set to undergo an MRI once the team returned to Bloomington. With IU's next game just three days after at Ohio State, he could be looking at another game on the sidelines.

What I Found Most Impressive… There's generally at least one thing that can be highlighted out of even the ugliest efforts, but it would be a real stretch to identify anything as "impressive" about IU's performance Saturday. Not only was there a noticeable difference in talent and an obvious edge in experience for Illinois, but there was also a decided disparity in toughness as well. Add all that up, and the end result was IU's most lop-sided loss in the history of the series.

Probably the most impressive thing about the game was the improvement Illinois has made in just one season. This isn't a team that has brought in a couple of standout freshmen to remake last year's ninth-place Big Ten squad – Illinois starting five were all key contributors a year ago as well. While the Illini don't figure to challenge for a Big Ten title this season, they do look like a 20-win plus team that should be back in the NCAA Tournament in the spring.

What I Found Most Concerning… the extent of Devan Dumes' ankle injury. While Dumes' decision to not pull the ball out late against Michigan might have cost IU a Big Ten victory, he's also been playing some of his best basketball as of late. He'd scored in double figures in seven straight games, and he was 13-of-26 from behind the 3-point arc in his last four games. He's also the team's most experienced player who has also generally been matched up with the other team's best offensive perimeter player. If he's going to be sidelined for an extended period of time, it's going to be a very tall order for the Hoosiers to find a way to win Big Ten games with him on the sidelines. On a team with very few reliable scoring threats – and none that are proven – Dumes' absence would be a crushing blow during the next several weeks.

Turning Point: In a near replay of the Kentucky game, Indiana landed itself in a 21-2 deficit in the first seven minutes and never threatened to make a game of it. Illinois center Mike Tisdale blocked the Hoosiers' first two field goal attempts, and IU turned the ball over on five successive trips during one stretch. Indiana's inability to produce much of anything was compounded by a less-than-stellar effort on the defensive end as well. Illinois consistently got good looks at the basket early and connected on five 3-pointers to help it open the huge lead.

Quotable: "They pass the ball so well and they know where their people want to be. I think their motion is one of the better offenses in the country. Therefore with our team and our inexperience we really didn't want to be guarding them man-to-man as much in this game, but at the same time we did not follow our principles of where we needed to be defensively. We were late moving on the catch and we just don't have guys who can help pull you through when things are not going right and it just snowballed much like the Kentucky game." – IU Coach Tom Crean

"It makes a big difference when you have a lot of guys who can shoot. Last year, we'd run a play and it ends up in the hands of somebody who couldn't make a shot or make a free throw." – Illinois Coach Bruce Weber

"I don't know if I wanted to go that deep (on IU's bench), but we did. I think where we are at and today proved it, we have got to continue to look at any point and time that we can look at anyone who can give us a spark or somebody who can give us momentum, but frankly somebody that will take absolute pride on the defensive end and that's where we are at. We lost a very winnable game on Wednesday night because we didn't guard well enough in the second half and we lost a game today because we never got that established and frankly we allowed them to be the aggressor." – Crean

"You know we are rebuilding in a lot of ways and the one thing that I am going to stay true to is that I plan to be here a very long time. Our staff plans to get this program back to where it has to be, where this is a meaningful game, and we are doing the things to bring Indiana back. I am absolutely looking every day to helping build these guys into being the kind of guys that deserve to be in that, deserve to play that way. Will that happen, I have no idea. But I know that every day we are not going to change what we are trying to do and there is time to look at improvement and there is time to call it what it is." - Crean

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