Something about the score definitely makes me think something was off about Illinois, still. This should have been a blowout, and to me, ten points isn't a blow out. I don't think Illinois has their rhythm back. If they don't find it soon it could cost them a shot at the Big Ten title.
Illinois only out-rebounded Iowa by two, 27-25. On the offensive rebound end, Iowa out-rebounded Illinois 13-6. Illinois needed to take away second chance opportunities. That could have blown the game wide open. If you can take away Iowa's second chance opportunities and score, you would be doing just fine.
I just don't see this as an Iowa is better than we thought game. We know how good Iowa is. Illinois didn't clamp down on the defensive end. I feel they have been struggling with that game after game. Illinois will need to be tougher and more aggressive on the defensive end as they go deeper into Big Ten play and start playing teams like Michigan State, Ohio State and Purdue. Bruce Weber needs to look over his defense and see whats up.
Iowa won the turnover battle, forcing 17 turnovers, while Illinois forced 13. Iowa's program right now resembles a mid-major program. It is showing improvements, but it's still not there yet. Illinois is beginning to join the "Michigan State funk group".
They need to get it turned around. At the end of the day, all that matters is they won. As long as it's a W, you did as much as you needed to do. I just think when Illinois starts playing the higher-ranked teams in the Big Ten, it is going to be a lot tougher for them if they don't figure it out, clamp down on defense, and go, go, go.
I see, Illinois stumbling some at the beginning of Big Ten play, playing Wisconsin, Michigan State and Ohio State, all in a row in January. I hope Bruce Weber can get his team turned around if they do stumble unlike last year, where they had high expectations and fell so far they didn't make the NCAA tournament.
Maybe it's me, maybe I am overreacting, but I just don't see the Illinois that is capable of being a high powered threat. They have a lot of talent and I don't see all of it coming through.