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Illinois Basketball Brushes By Colgate



Dec 17, 2023; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Illinois Fighting Illini guard Terrence Shannon Jr. (0) blocks the shot of Colgate Raiders guard Brady Cummins (1) during the second half at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

After an eight-day layoff, the Illinois Basketball team was able to coast to a victory against Colgate. Fresh off of finals week, the Illini used a dominant first 30 minutes to pick up a 74-57 win. Despite a late run from Colgate, Illinois used a balanced attack to overwhelm the Raiders.

1. In The Zone

As I predicted in the preview, Colgate ran a good amount of zone. They came into the game playing 26 possessions of zone all year and probably had around that number today. The Illini both moved the ball around, with four starters in double digits, but also crashed the glass. Hawkins was very good operating in the middle of the zone, and when the Illini missed they got 13 offensive rebounds. There were some shaky moments, and the Raiders packed the paint in the second half. However, compared to the Oakland game it was much better.

2. Cruise Control

Illinois dominated the first 30 minutes of the basketball game. They blazed out to a 14-0 lead and then led by 17 at half. That lead grew to as many as 22 before the Raiders mounted a late charge. A 10-0 run made it a 10-point game with six minutes to go. Colgate got into their game flow, slowing the Illini down into a half-court game. The Raiders frontcourt did most of the damage, with Jeff Woodward and Keegan Records combining for 23 of the 57. Braeden Smith who entered the game as Colgate’s leading scorer was smothered into just 2 points. Ultimately, it was a relatively comfortable win, with the Illini defense tightening up. Still, a 30-minute effort in their next game can cost them a winnable game.

3. On To The Next

Job done against Colgate. Now the Illini face their last real non-conference test in St. Louis. The last two years have been a mixed bag against Missouri, with both teams trading blowouts. I’ll have more for the preview, but this will not be an easy game. Dennis Gates has a talented squad that had a competitive loss to Kansas and will play Seton Hall before facing the Illini. With another long layoff, Illinois must come out as sharp as today and sustain the effort for 40 minutes.

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Brian is a former sports writer for the Daily Illini who has been covering Illinois Basketball for over 5 years. Brian is now the lead basketball reporter for Armchair Illini, the go-to source for Illinois athletics news. He has had work published on Bleacher Report, Verbal Commits, USA Today and more.