Illini wilt in Bloomington, fall to Hoosiers 96-80

Sports

BLOOMINGTON, Ind — The Assembly Hall in Bloomington has not been kind to the Illini as of late. Illinois lost by 37 there last season. On Saturday, Illinois fell by 16 to the Hoosiers 96-80.

The Illini (11-5, 1-2) were lead in scoring by Malcolm Hill and Jalen Coleman-Lands, each scored 21 points on the day. Indiana (11-5, 1-2) got 25 out of James Blackmon, Jr.

Call it the first half blues. The Illini sleepwalked their way through the first half here at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers opened the game scoring 15 straight, they shot nearly 60 percent from the field in the opening 20 minutes. It’s nothing new for the orange and blue. This is the second consecutive game the Illini have struggled out of the gates. In their two true road games, Illinois has trailed at half by an average of 17.5 points.
 
Bret:
“What do you attribute that slow start to John?”
 
John Groce:
“I don’t know Bret it’s interesting because it’s happened twice now so we’ve got to figure that out.  And I did tell them that we’ve got to make the necessary changes to make sure that doesn’t happen.”
 
Bret:
“Do you feel like your guys were prepared?”
 
Groce:
“I do.  We had a great week of practice, I think our guys knew the scouting report, you know obviously you’ve got to go out and execute it.”
 
Groce praised his team for their second half comeback where they cut the Hoosier lead to single digits but placed the blame squarely on the first half.
 
“I thought our defense wasn’t great early and they made shots and I thought we didn’t make any. Bo (Mike Thorne, Jr.) misses a right-hand hook, J-Cole (Jalen Coleman-Lands) misses a 3, Tracy (Abrams) misses a runner that were all quality looks and we don’t make any of them so now we get behind early,” Groce added.
 
“I just try to tell the team you know it’s still a 5-on-5 game,” Malcolm Hill explained. “No matter how loud the crowd gets, don’t let the referee or officiating get in our heads, just keep playing hard.”
 
The road is always tough in the Big Ten but it’s been especially rough for Groce who is now 11-27 in Big Ten road games.  And it doesn’t get any easier from here in this seven game stretch to open league play.  They still have trips to West Lafayette and Ann Arbor.

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