The State Farm Center was rocking in Champaign on Tuesday night, but the Fighting Illini couldn’t quite come through against Georgetown in the second match-up of the Gavitt Games.
The game was a back-and-forth affair with the teams trading the lead most of the second half. Georgetown freshman James Akinjo connected on a huge three-point play to give Georgetown an 84-80 with under a minute left. That sealed the game for the Hoyas.
Let’s take a look at some of the key takeaways of Illinois’ loss to Georgetown.
What We Learned:
1. Does Illinois Win This With Trent Frazier?
With all respect to Georgetown, I think they do.
One of Illinois’ top players, Frazier missed the game because of a concussion he suffered in practice on Monday.
In his place, the Illini played senior Aaron Jordan who did not give them much (one point and two assists in 23 minutes). Frazier was solid in the season opener and went for 10 points, seven assists, and zero turnovers. With the up-and-down nature of their game last night, the Illini could have used his playmaking and decision-making abilities.
Illinois could have won without him, but with Frazier, in the lineup, it is reasonable to think Frazier could have been the difference to put them over the top.
2. Interior Defense Will Be An Issue All Season.
Team defense was not really required from both teams in this game. Yes, Illinois turned over Georgetown 22 times, but once Georgetown broke the press there was little resistance anywhere else. The Hoyas shot nearly 50 percent from the field and scored 46 points in the paint on 20-21 shots at the rim. Georgetown also outrebounded the Illini 39-26 and won the second chance points battle 11-2.
Now, to be fair to Illinois, they actually had 48 points in the paint, but trying to outscore everyone is not going to work much of the time. Tonight was another example.
3. Ayo Dosunmu Is As Good As Advertised
What a performance by the freshman.
The 6-foot-4 guard led all scorers with 25 points on 9-15 from the field. Dosunmu has big expectations in his first (and maybe only) season in Champaign, and was thrust into a difficult spot with the absence of Frazier.
Dosunmu responded by leading all scorers and carrying Illinois throughout the second half and almost to victory. After the game, he remarked about how disappointed he was he couldn’t win one for the fans in the great atmosphere in the State Farm Center, which earned him kudos from his coach Brad Underwood.
“He doesn’t have anything to hang his head about,’’ Underwood said. “The young man took blame for the loss. How mature is that?”
Dosunmu can do some things to clean up turnovers, but overall, the young man is spectacular and should be in line for some big moments this season.
Illinois dropped a tough one last night against Georgetown, but optimism should be returning to Champaign. Maui is an absolute bear for this young team, and it will be a challenge to keep things positive on Underwood’s side if they get blown out, but Illinois has the athletes and offensive skill to sneak up on some Big Ten teams this season.