I suppose no one will remember this game. No one had ever heard of the network that carried it. A handful of hundreds attended. On paper, it looks like a blowout. (That’s the preview paper and the morning paper.)
It didn’t feel like a blowout.
I’ve never had such an uneasy feeling about a 20 point lead.
Illinois looked sloppy (11/13 assists to turnovers). They looked lethargic. “Those guys are running full-out and our guys are going about 80%” John Groce said to his bench. Little Grant Prusator (whose name the PA guy seemed to announce as “Crusader”) could not be stopped, not at the arc, nor inside it.
And yet, the 88-62 final suggests to me that Illinois won by 24 points.
Obviously the three-point shooting (9-20, 45%) was the difference. It helps that ISU converted only 10 of their 27 attempts from distance, because a lot of them were wide open. Illinois’ defense continues to lose track of shooters.
Excellently & terribly, it was Ahmad Starks’s best and worst games, too. He converted 1-of-5 from the floor. But he passed better, and more intrepidly, than at any point this year. His passing was fun to watch. That hadn’t happened yet.