THE FACTS: Illinois defeated the Gophers 69-78 in Champaign despite 31 points from Jamison Battle and 18 from Dawson Garcia. But the Illini starters were all in double-figures, led by Matthew Mayer’s 22. What was a 6-point game at the break was quickly bumped up to a 14-point differential as Illinois began the half with an 8-0 run and the Gophers could not close that gap.
THE STAT: The stats that typically doom this Gopher squad were really not too bad last night. Turnovers were not a huge problem, we rebounded at a decent rate and shooting was OK. We even shot a better free throw percentage than our opponent. There was not so much a key stat that stood out as a major contributor to the loss, and more that this Illinois team was just a better team.
TURNING POINT: The game was relatively close throughout the first half and the Gophers trailed just 29-35 at halftime. But the Illini scored a quick 8-0 run to start the 2nd half, bumping the margin up to 14 and the Gophers could never really close that gap in the final 20 minutes.
HOT: Battle scoring 31 after being held to single digits in the last 3 games was a welcome site for the Gophers. Maybe the junior gets hot over these last few weeks of the season.
NOT: Ta’Lon Cooper shooting 1/9 and really he has not shot well for quite some time. The Gopher point guard, who once could boast a very nice 3-pt %, is shooting 16% (6/37) from three over the last 8 games.
NOTABLE: You may recall that this was a make-up game due to the Gophers having a run of Covid 2 weeks ago.
UP NEXT: Minnesota gets 1 day off before playing at Maryland on Wednesday. At least the game is away, considering the snow-pocalypse that is descending on the Twin Cities this week.