The Illini finished up their run through the bottom of the Big Ten with an eighteen point victory…
Brumby's Random Thoughts
It was good to see the Illini go into the post early and often on Tuesday night. Shaun Pruitt is continuing to show that when he gets the basketball in a position to score, he knows what to do with it. He scored five of Illinois' first seven points in the first four minutes of the game, before he was removed by Bruce Weber and replaced by Marcus Arnold. Pruitt has shown that he can score when given the opportunity to do so in the offense, it is time for the Illini to continue to work the ball inside to Pruitt and James Augustine.
One of the best aspects of the Illini offense on Tuesday evening was the interior passing. James Augustine had a career-high seven assists, all obtained before the mid-way point in the second half. He was passing the ball so well that Brent Illiniberger, err Musberger, was touting Augustine as a candidate for the second ever triple double in Illini history.
What made the interior passing so good on Tuesday night? Simple, the Illini actually had decent spacing in the offense for the first time in a long time. When the Gophers would double team Augustine on one block, he was able to look over the double team and find Pruitt for easy baskets, either slam dunks or layups. This was not the entirety of Augustine's assists, but it was a good sign that the Illini big men, especially the two starters, are beginning to understand where each other will be on the floor at the same time.
With his ten rebounds on Tuesday night, James Augustine now has 991 rebounds over his career. He needs just nine rebounds in the Illini's final games to be just the eleventh player in Big Ten history to join the 1,000 point / 1,000 rebound club. He would be the only Illini on the list, which is only logical as he is the career leader for rebounds in Illinois history.
The Illini's switching on defense is still perplexing. Earlier in the season, the Illini were not switching at all on screens, either on or off the basketball, but now that is just common place. It started out as Bruce Weber's way to keep Jamar Smith on the ball, but it has now grown so where it is hard to see just one Illini defensive possession go by without a switch on a screen when it was not necessary.
The Illini are now undefeated with the holy triumvirate of Brent Illiniberger, Steve Lavin, and Erin Andrews announcing the game. In fact, the only time Illinois has lost when Lavin and Musberger were in the building was last Tuesday night against the Michigan Wolverines. It is nice to always win in front of your home announcers on ESPN.
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