Illinois Fighting Illini Still Has Long Way To Go After Loss To Michigan Wolverines

By Brian Lester
Rick Osentoski – USA TODAY Sports Images

Well, Illinois saw its five-game win streak come to an end. Michigan buried it with a 71-58 win over the Fighting Illini in Ann Arbor on Sunday afternoon.

The Fighting Illini had been playing well, but they were reminded on Sunday that they do have a long way to go to be one of the top-tier teams in the Big Ten.

Illinois did have a 31-28 lead at halftime, and that was great, but no team has ever won a game after 20 minutes of basketball.

You have to play hard and focused from start to finish, and in the end, the Wolverines are more talented than the Fighting Illini.

One of the biggest problems for Illinois was that Brandon Paul didn’t score in the second half. All 10 of his points came in the opening half.

Paul needs to be a factor for Illinois to win games. It’s hard to do that when he doesn’t even attempt a shot.

D.J. Richardson and Tracy Abrams finished with 10 points apiece, but like Paul, those two need to play at a high level for Illinois to win big games on the road.

As if the offensive woes weren’t bad enough, Illinois didn’t have an answer for Trey Burke, who torched the Fighting Illini for 26 points and also dished out eight assists.

Illinois hasn’t had a horrible season. It has made a lot of strides under first-year head coach John Groce.

But games like Sunday’s against Michigan are reminders that the Fighting Illini aren’t ready to be a prime time team.

Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.

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