Feb. 10—What happened
A late game collapse. Again. Illinois managed to avoid an upset last weekend after it fell apart at the end of regulation against Nebraska, eking out an overtime win. Michigan State didn't give the Illini that opportunity Saturday in East Lansing, Mich. Illinois made just one field goal in the final 7 1/2 minutes and coughed up what would have been a key road win in an 88-80 loss.
What it means
Saturday's game simply reinforced questions about this Illinois team. The offense, even with so many misses down the stretch, isn't the problem. Scoring 80 points is often times more than enough. Giving up 88 points is. So is falling apart down the stretch. The Spartans shooting 53 percent from the field made them the third team to do so against the Illini in five games.
No time to let the loss to Michigan State linger. Illinois is back on the typical two-day prep during Big Ten play with Michigan headed to Champaign for a Tuesday night tip at State Farm Center. The Illini handled the Wolverines easily in Ann Arbor, Mich., last month in a 15-point win. It was, notably, the seventh straight loss Juwan Howard to Brad Underwood.
What was said
"It's almost a flip of the game in Champaign when we got to the line and were aggressive. I think we're one of the top teams in the country in terms of fewest fouls committed. Give them all the credit. They were obviously the aggressor. You're a passive, soft team when you're fouling, and, obviously, we fouled a lot (Saturday) so we were pretty passive." — Illinois coach Brad Underwood