It was a battle until the end, but the Illini come up just short at Maryland in their first road game of the season
It was a battle and the Terps led most of the way, but the Illini fought back in the end. They lose 71-66 after a big-time dagger from Jahmir Young for Maryland. There is a lot to break down with this loss, but there is zero doubt that the Illini fought hard to stay in the game. Illinois hasn’t won AT Maryland since 2010-11 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. It’s a hard place to win at on the road and Kevin Willard has them playing elite basketball.
The Good Things
- Key Stats
- Outrebounded Maryland 33-31
- 44 points in the paint
- 7-for-8 from the free throw line
The box score wasn’t favorable for the Illini overall. They weren’t efficient on the offensive end and struggled in key areas of the game. However, Dain Dainja was able to feast in the paint for a lot of the 2nd half. They didn’t get many opportunities at the line, but they converted when they did.
The Bad Things
- Key Stats
- Maryland 7-for-15 from three in the first half
- Seven players with multiple fouls
- 5-for-20 from three
The Illini defense was AWFUL in the first half, they were struggling. They constantly made poor decisions to get fouls called on them and left shooters open throughout. On the flip side, the Illini could not come up with the big three-pointer when needed. Most notably, Terrence Shannon Jr. and Jayden Epps had key misses.
Three Studs of the Game
Stud #3 – G RJ Melendez (Illini) – 5-7 FG, 2-3 3pt, 13 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks, 3 steals
It was a toss-up between Melendez and Coleman Hawkins, but I opted to go with RJ. He made two of the Illini’s five threes and made key plays down the stretch. While he struggled defensively in the first half he made up for it after that.
Stud #2 – G/F Hakim Hart – 6-9 FG, 5-6 3pt, 17 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists
Hart was stroking it from three and the Illini had no answer for it. Communication breakdowns led to wide-open looks for him, and he wasn’t missing. You have to give him credit for making the shots, but Illinois made it pretty easy for him.
Stud #1 – G Jahmir Young – 9-20 FG, 4-9 3pt, 24 points, 4 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal
It was the first Big Ten game for Charlotte transfer Jahmir Young and he delivered. He made the dagger three to seal it and had a monster game overall. The Illini had no answer for him either, as the kids say “he’s H1M.” But in all seriousness, Young had a terrific game.
Onto the Next One
Next up for the Illini: Tuesday, December 6th vs. #2 Texas (6 PM CST / ESPN)
The road gets tougher from here as the Illini head to New York City and Madison Square Garden for a Jimmy V Classic matchup with Texas. The Longhorns have been terrific this season with wins over Gonzaga and Creighton, Chris Beard is one of the best coaches in the country. This will be another major litmus test game for the Illini, and hopefully, they are up for it.
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