DES MOINES, Ia. (WCIA) — Illinois men’s basketball are one and done in the NCAA Tournament this year, putting the streak at 18 years in a row the Illini have not seen the Sweet 16.
Turnovers and shooting killed the 9th seed Illini in their game against 8th seed Arkansas. Illinois had 17 turnovers, the Hogs capitalizing on those with 19 points off Illini turnovers. The Illini only shot 38% from the field, 27% beyond the arc. Illinois head coach Brad Underwood says leadership plays a key role in making those changes on the court.
“Leadership is vital at that spot,”Underwood said. “We never had to, something the last three years we never had to worry about and turnovers and shooting are big pieces of that and it’s a bad combination to have that on the offensive side and every time we made a run tonight, it was a turnover, a missed layup, or missed free throws and you can’t do that and win a NCAA tournament.”
“I really regret kind of holding on to that culture that the guys like Trent and Kofi and all them built,” Illinois forward Coleman Hawkins said. “I let people slip away from doing what we do as a team and I think this year I did a bad job of keeping that culture. I think that’s on me 100%.”
Brad Underwood said he hopes everyone eligible returns to his team next year. He also said he was looking in the transfer portal after the game.