(WCIA) — Andre Curbelo was in the gym late on Sunday night putting up shots to make up for the biggest one he missed. The freshman has the chance to put Illinois within one point of Maryland, but didn’t make the jumper with 17 seconds left in the game.
“I trusted him a lot, I believed in him a lot, so it’s the next shot,” said Illini guard Ayo Dousnmu.
The Illini lost 66-63 against Maryland on Sunday, their first loss at the State Farm Center this year. Curbelo scored 8 points for Illinois, with three assists, but the guard was just 4-12 from the field.
“You just have to be aggressive, and you have to fall back on your work–that’s my advice to him. Keeping shooting it, keep working, sometimes you shoot 500 shots, and you come out shooting 1 for 3 or 2 for 4, so I just told him to keep his head up,” said Dosunmu.
Curbelo also played significant minutes after Trent Frazier went down with an injury. The senior left the game in the first half, and only returned for six minutes in the second. He didn’t score a single point against the Terrapins, but his absence was missed mostly on the defensive side.
“You’re talking about one of the elite defenders in our league, and we lose that,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “We also lose a guy who makes a lot of energy plays and a lot of the right plays. Not that anybody else was bad, but Trent’s also got that ability to hit big shots, and big three’s and he creates space with his speed, so there’s no doubt we missed having Trent out there.”
Aside from missing Frazier, Underwood puts the blame on a sloppy week of practice leading up to the game. Missed free throws also cost the Illini 12 points–enough to make a difference in a 3-point loss.
The Illini dropped to fourth in the Big Ten standings, and will have a chance to bounce back this weekend. With their game against Nebraska getting cancelled, the Illini will play next on Saturday against Ohio State at the State Farm Center.