The Illini rolled against Kansas City and took control of the game after an incredibly slow start
This was a quality performance for Brad Underwood’s team in a game where they rightfully dominated. The schedule is going to ramp up next week with the Continental Tire Main Event in Vegas, but they’re getting important games under them now to build confidence and chemistry. Despite losing to a non-D1 opponent in their opener, Kansas City hung around with LSU. That wasn’t the case in Champaign though, the Illini simply dominated them.
The Good Things
In the 86-48 win, the Illini did a lot of things well. They scored 47 points in the second half and ran away from the Roos after a slow start. The score was far closer than it should have been in the first 10 minutes.
- Key Stats
- 42 points in the paint
- 43 bench points
- 46.9 from the field (30-64)
- 11 turnovers (down 4 from the first game)
The Illini weren’t great from three-point range, but they made up for it with a dominant night in the paint. They took better care of the ball and got production from a lot of players. They did what Big Ten teams should do against these types of opponents.
The Bad Things
As was the case with the season opener, there weren’t a lot of bad things in this game. One of them was their 1-for-18 start from the field, which was incredibly ugly. Other than that, I’d say that Underwood is happier with the execution in this game.
- Key Stats
- 29.6% from three (8-27)
- RJ Melendez – 2-for-7 from the field, now 2-for-12 on the season
- 1-for-18 start from the field
I had to nitpick a little bit to find bad stats from this game, but I found a few notable numbers. I’m not overly concerned with Melendez’s play, he does a lot of things well and should be able to find his shooting stroke soon. They also need to realize that they don’t have to take as many threes as they do, but that’s another small issue that can be ironed out later in the season.
Three Studs of the Game
Stud #3: G Shemarri Allen (Kansas City) – 20 points, 8 rebounds, 1 assist, 3 steals
The only consistent scorer in this game for the Roos was Allen. He had 19 points against LSU and followed that up with 20 points against Illinois. He made nine of Kansas City’s 20 field goals in this game.
Stud #2: G Jayden Epps (Illini) – 4-9 FG, 2-5 3pt, 13 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists
The most important stat for Epps? He has zero turnovers. If a guard like Epps who handles the ball plenty, takes care of the ball, it goes a long way. He found his shooting stroke in the second half and showed off his ability to score. This was an important performance from him, it should build confidence.
Stud #1: F Dain Dainja (Illini) – 9-11 FG, 20 points, 15 rebounds, 5 blocks
What a start to the season for Dainja. He had a double-double in the first game and followed that up with an easier one in the second game. he was an absolute menace and game-wrecker tonight. He had double-digit rebounds by halftime and put on an offensive clinic in the paint in the second half. The start to his career at Illinois could not be any better for the Baylor transfer.
Onto the Next One
Next up for the Illini: Monday, November 14th vs. Monmouth (8 PM CST, Big Ten Network)
One more game against the lesser competition for Illinois before they head to Vegas to play UCLA. Monmouth should be tougher (maybe) than Eastern Illinois and Kansas City, but the Illini will be the favorites regardless.
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