Advertisement

Good Morning, Illini Nation: Matchups matter

Feb. 29—Sign up for our daily basketball newsletter here

Welcome to "Good Morning, Illini Nation," your daily dose of college basketball news from Illini beat writer and AP Top 25 voter Scott Richey. He'll offer up insights every morning on Brad Underwood's team and college basketball at large:

Dain Dainja viewed Wednesday's game against Minnesota as an opportunity. Minnesota's use of Dawson Garcia and Pharrel Payne had the potential to mean a shot for more minutes for the Illini big man, and that's exactly what Dainja got, turning 19 minutes of playing time into 11 points and six rebounds.

"That's a heavy post-up team," Dainja said. "Pharrel, he's a good center for them. He's big bodied. I definitely felt like it was going to be a good matchup, and I feel like I impacted the game really well."

Going to Garcia and Payne early and often was Minnesota coach Ben Johnson's entire game plan.

"We had to develop an inside presence," Johnson said. "We had to go inside to Pharrel and Dawson as much as we could and establish that physicality and then play that inside-out game. Our guards made shots. We had five turnovers for the game. We tried to push it when we had an opportunity to break. We just couldn't get a rhythm defensively against some of their matchup stuff.

"Obviously, (Marcus) Domask does a great job of getting perimeter to post. When you double like we tried to a couple times, you're giving up backside threes or a swing to a maybe a three or a drive. They do a good job of just keep going back to it and isolating different guys."