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Illinois Basketball Drops Home Game to Maryland



Jan 14, 2024; Champaign, Illinois, USA; Maryland Terrapins guard Jahmir Young (1) drives the ball against Maryland Terrapins center Braden Pierce (4) during the second half at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Illinois Basketball team seemed to be back to their winning ways after dispatching Michigan State, only to turn around a couple days later and lose as 8.5-point favorites at home to Maryland 76-67. After leading at half, the Illini went ice cold in the second, shooting just 22% from the field and scoring just 28 points.

1. Paint Presence

Maryland came in one of the worst shooting teams in the country, and the Illini one of the best defensive teams inside the arc. However, it was the Terrapins who were able to dominate inside. Julian Reese provided a back to the basket threat, and Jahmir Young slashed into the lane. The Terps scored 52 points in the paint, over 2/3rds of their overall total. They also had six blocks and 11 offensive rebounds. The Illini will miss the defensive athleticism and offensive aggression of Terrence Shannon Jr., but they cannot get outscored by 26 in the paint no matter who is out there.

2. Gone Cold

Just like the sub-zero temperatures in Champaign, the Illini froze in the second half, missing a number of layups, and going 1-14 from 3. We haven’t seen the Illini struggle like this from the field this year but give credit to Maryland. The Terps played almost exclusively plus athletes and defenders that were able to disrupt Illinois around the rim. However, there was also a large number of misses that were very makeable shots. As such, without the ability to score inside or out, the Illini just couldn’t score enough to pull ahead of Maryland late.

3. Reset

Illinois played two very emotional and physical games with Purdue and Michigan State. They played well in both of those but needed their top 6 to play very heavy minutes in each. Without Shannon Jr., it will be very hard for this team to get blow outs. With more winnable games coming up, the Illini need to take a deep breath and prepare themselves. They cannot rely on Shannon Jr. coming back to save them. Justin Harmon and Quincy Guerrier have been outstanding in Shannon Jr.’s absence but were very poor against Maryland. Marcus Domask put up 26 points in another strong scoring outing but had one assist to five turnovers. Those three will decide the Illini’s fate without Shannon Jr. and they need to be better than that.

With the loss the Illini drop to 12-4, and 3-2 in conference.

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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.