Minnesota 84, Illinois 67: Rapid Reaction

A quick look at the Illinois-Minnesota game, where the Golden Gophers won 84-67 Wednesday.

Illinois lost it's first home game of the season Wednesday, falling to Minnesota 84-67 in front of a sellout crowd.

The Illini (14-3) were paced by Brandon Paul's 21 points, with Tracy Abrams and D.J. Richardson each adding 14.

Minnesota (15-1) was led by sophomore Joe Coleman's 29 points, with Andrew Hollins (22) and Trevor Mbakwe (19) also reaching double figures.

It was over when: Hollins hit a short jumper with less than three minutes to play, giving the Golden Gophers a 72-59 lead. There was still plenty of time left and both teams continued to score, but the Illini went into press and foul mode shortly after Hollins' make.

Ilinois player of the game: Tracy Abrams. The sophomore scored 10 of his 14 points in the second half and helped spurn a 10-0 run that briefly brought the Illini back into the game. True, he also had a few mistakes at the end of that run that helped push the momentum back in Minnesota's favor, but Abrams playmaking ability kept Illinois hanging around. He added four rebounds and two assists.

Minnesota player of the game: Joe Coleman. The sophomore guard scored a career-high 29 points, converting numerous transition dunks and layups. He finished 10-of-16 from the field, 2-for-3 from downtown and added seven points at the free throw line. He also had three rebounds, two assists and a block. His previous best scoring effort was 16, earlier this season against Florida State.

Stat of the game: Shooting percentage. Minnesota shot nearly 53 percent (27-51) from the floor while Illinois struggled to a 35 percent (23-65) result. The woes from 3 continued, as Illinois hit only 3 of 24 takes from downtown.

Stat of the game 2: Rebounding. A primary talking point coming into the game, Illinois held it's own on the glass and limited the Golden Gophers to only seven offensive boards. Minnesota edged the Illini overall, 37-33, but as it turned out, rebounding wasn't the heavy advantage for Minnesota as most thought coming in.

The takeaway: Minnesota proved to be a good team with it's play Wednesday night, but this was a strange game to chart. Illinois did many of the things it needed to do -- rebounding well, taking care of the basketball and playing with great effort. The problems came from poor shooting and a lack of execution. The recent trend of bad 3-point shooting continued (3-of-24), but the Illini didn't have a response. Time and time again, the team struggled in the half-court and rarely seemed to be up and running in the offensive system. Minnesota made the Illini pay, scoring in transition off bad shots and continuing to mix up defenses. The loss hurts, as losses should. But this wasn't about effort or toughness or heart. It was about shooting and execution -- two things that can be corrected.


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