Illinois basketball had some issues tonight doing something that the 1996 and 2000 GOP Presidential primary fields handled with ease: stopping Steve Forbes.A different Steve Forbes, this was a chubby IPFW big man with totally boss facial hair; not a flat tax promoting mega-rich publisher and CEO of a major wing of the business press.
But eventually Illinois won 57-55.
Illinois basketball got outrebounded xx-yy by a middle of the road Summit League team. The Indiana University of Purdue at Ft. Wayne Mastodons entered at 6-2, with close losses to Dayton and xxy. If they had been able to make any free throws at all, then this really would have been an embarrassing home loss for Illinois basketball. IPFW shot just x-y at the charity stripe.
And the Illini struggled massively behind the arc, as Jon Ekey again couldn't find his 3-pt shot. Ekey is streaky. All 3 point shooters are streaky, but Ekey started 1-8, then went 12-19, then 2-10 in his last two games before going x-y tonight. This isn't first time this year that the Illini struggled at home badly before finally putting away mid-majors and low-majors.
Illinois basketball led Valparaiso by two - 49-47, with five minutes left before going on a 13-1 run as part of a 15-5 spree to close the game. Illinois led Chicago State by four, - 55-51 with eight to go, before igniting a 22-2 run to end the game that included no CSU field goals. On Tuesday, Illinois trailed UNLV by six - 51-57 with six minutes remaining, but closed the game on a 10-2 run and held the Rebels scoreless on their home floor over the final 4:16.
As bad as the Mastodons were at the stripe, the Illini returned the favor and helped even things out by going through a brutal 1-9 stretch during I'll be back to update this post later with reaction from Illinois basketball players and Illinois basketball coach John Groce.
Paul M. Banks is the owner of , an affiliate of Fox Sports. He's also an analyst for multiple news talk radio stations across the country; with regular weekly segments on NBC and Fox Sports Radio. Follow him on andCatch him Tuesdays talking and for KOZN 1620 The Zone, Fridays talking Chicago for WAOR 95.7 The Fan
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