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Matthew Mayer’s Significance to Illinois

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Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit (11) fouls Illinois forward Matthew Mayer (24) during the first half of their game Saturday, January 28, 2023 at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. MARK HOFFMAN/MILWAUKEE JOURNAL SENTINEL Mjs Uwmen28 5 Jpg Uwmen28

Matthew Mayer is showing us that he is the player Illinois landed over North Carolina.

Illinois overcame a nasty start in Madison to overcome the Badgers, 61-51. Illinois was locked in defensively, however struggled heavily on the offensive side. Perimeter shooting struggled, and Terrence Shannon struggled early with foul trouble. There was one true offensive bright spot during the game. Matthew Mayer.

Headband Mayer carried the Illini.

Matthew Mayer was outstanding. He was able to create his own shot effectively against the stout Badger defense. In the second half, Mayer seemed like he could not be stopped. Even after Wisconsin briefly took the lead midway through the second half, Mayer continued to make shots. The Baylor transfer has really come into his own after a tough start to the season. On the court, Mayer looked a half step slow to start the season. After missing some time over the summer with a back injury,

Mayer looked like a shell of the active and high-energy player he was on prior Baylor teams. He was slow and was missing wide open shots, which drew the ire of many fans. Additionally, he openly criticized Brad Underwood and his coaching methods. Illinois then went on to lose games in pretty disappointing fashion. This lead everyone to question Mayer’s worth to this team after he publicly aired out some dirty laundry

Now, Matthew Mayer has come into his own. He has been very vocal about how great coach Underwood has been for him and the team. Every chance he gets, he praises Brad’s willingness to change and basketball smarts.

Statistical Significance.

Since the Texas game, Mayer has put up some impressive stats. He has averaged 14.8 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2 blocks per game. He has shot 48 percent from the field, including 43 percent from 3. His offensive firepower really has the potential to take Illinois to the next level. If he can continue this production, Illinois will be a hard team to beat. In a night where Terrence Shannon was off his game, Mayer stood tall and delivered on the road.

In the summer, Mayer and Pete Nance were two highly touted transfers. For the season, their stat lines are very similar. However, I do want to note the significance Mayer has had on the defensive side. He is averaging 2.0 blocks per game, and has been outstanding in half-court defense. 

After a slow start both on and off the court, Mayer has shown significance similar to Alfonso Plummer. His veteran savvy and ability to hit perimeter shots have helped Illinois be where they are now.

Alex is the Owner of Armchairillini.com, your go-to source for in depth coverage of the Illinois Fighting Illini. Alex is a Resident Physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation for Northwestern Medicine and has had articles featured in top media publications like Bleacher Report, YardBarker, Verbal Commits, CBS sports and more.

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