Illinois Trims Missouri, 82-50 subject logo: COLSPORTS
Posted by: badanov


We just knew Quinn Snyder was going to pull Mizzou out of the fire against Illinois in St. Louis any minute. We knew it would happen.

Any minute.

For 30 solid minutes.

How good is Illinois?

According to wire reports and Big 10 statistics, Illinois is struggling on the offense. Illinois is average or worse in every category of offense. The 12-0 record doesn't seem to address that contention

But it has been the defense which is carrying Illinois, and by an average of 15 points per game.

So, the question is: Can they ride their defense into the post season.

Answer: That is what they are trying to do. It is easy to score points, but not against a good defense, and Illinois has a great defense.

The Illini has been carrying plus turnover margins and rebound margins. This early in the season you would expect that, except Illinois even pounded Oregon earlier month, 89-59. Not exactly a sign of a team that is struggling.

There are some troubling statistics for Illinois, however, and in two areas: free throws and field goals. Illinois is dead last in the Big 10 in free throw percentages, and is in 8th place in field goals. Free throws can kill a very good team with a good defense, and the combination with a lackluster scoring offense can ruin a whole season.

Illinois is currently 12-0. Their first conference game is against currently 10th ranked Michigan State at home.

The Spartans' first two games were big challenges they were up to meeting, first against then 6th ranked Boston College, and then Wichita State, both games won easily with a combination of a great scoring offense, but a marginal defense. This game will be a fascinating study in how two great teams got to their high level suffering in areas opposite of what their opponents are suffering.

Or something like that.

What in the world is happening with Missouri?

The Tigers are suffering in every statistical category imaginable. In fact their statistics are so bad it is truly a wonder how they won the four games they have thus far in this young season.

The toughest game Missouri played to date has been against an average Arkansas team still in the middle of rebuilding, 66-63.

In that game, blocked shots and poor performances in the field and at the charity strip all combined for a loss for Missouri.

Missouri is starting only one senior, guard James McKinney, junior guards Jason Horton, Thomas Gardner, and James Douglas and sophomore forward Marshal Brown. That's a young team, and it will be increasingly up to Snyder how well this team matures.

In their conference opener Missouri hosts improving Oklahoma State January 7th and goes to Oklahoma January 10th in two of the toughest games the Tigers will likely play this season. In the interim, Missouri has three games to improve itself before conference play begins.

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