It was over when: D.J. Richardson buried his final 3. The senior stepped into a 3 and nailed it -- giving the Illini a seven point lead with 3:45 to play. The shot came during Illinois' dominant run to end the game. Illinois would score eight more points while the reeling Yellow Jackets managed only one more bucket. Richardson stare down the shot, which swished. Coach John Groce didn't take time to admire the action, which happened right in front of him -- he shoved Richardson down to the other end of the court to play defense.
Player of the game: Joseph Bertrand. The redshirt junior came to life in the second half, scoring 12 of his 15 points in the final period. Bertrand provided a flurry of points, scoring 10 straight that carried the Illini from trailing by four to winning by six. He finished 6-of-8 from the field (3-4 from 3) and added three rebounds, one assist and one steal.
Unsung heros: Devin Langford and Sam McLaurin. Langford didn't play in the second half, but he logged seven solid minutes in the first with Richardson in foul trouble. Coach John Groce cited Langford's defense and rebounding -- he finished with an offensive and defensive board.
McLaurin scored only two points, but his rebounding and defensive presence was felt in the 23 minutes he was on the floor. McLaurin contributed five rebounds and two blocks -- the last of which came with Tech trailing by seven and fighting to get back in the game.
Stat of the game: Rebounding. Due to Tech's size along the frontline and previous performances on the glass, rebounding was thought of as a concern for the Illini coming into the game. Illinois flipped the advantage, winning the battle for the boards 36-30. The Illinois guards continued to help on the glass, led by Brandon Paul's seven rebounds and D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams, who had four apiece. McLaurin (five) and Nnanna Egwu (four) chipped in, too.
The takeaway: Another day, another win. And this victory, once again, showed resiliency. The Illini trailed by four with just over seven minutes to play, but were the much stronger team down the stretch. The team took strides forward in rebounding and even showed off a zone defense. The scoring remained perimeter oriented -- and why not? The team shot 50 percent (14-of-28) from deep. Now Illinois gets a much needed break, with five days until Western Carolina comes to town. It's always good to get a win going into extended periods of practice.