Illinois men’s basketball looking to turn things around


Austin Yattoni

Illinois’ Malcolm Hill (21) takes a jump shot during the game against Minnesota at State Farm Center on Saturday, February 4. The Illini lost 68-59.

By Lucas Wright , Staff writer

The Illinois men’s basketball team has lost six of its last seven games and sits at 3-8 in conference play.

The team had opportunities last week to boost its resume but failed, falling both to Wisconsin and Minnesota at home.

Illinois will have another chance to pick up a win with their next game against Northwestern.

In years past, the Northwestern matchup has been a celebrated one for many Illinois fans, as most times it would mean the Illini could add a tally in the win column.

But head coach Chris Collins has this year’s Wildcats performing at a new level. Northwestern currently sits at 7-3 in Big Ten play and has been nearly unstoppable at home, posting a 12-1 record at the Welsh-Ryan Arena.

Defensively, Illinois will have to contend with shutting down Northwestern’s three-headed attack featuring Vic Law, Scottie Lindsey and Bryan McIntosh. The trio averages just over 40 points per game.

Where is the Illinois offense?

Over the past seven games, the Illinois offense has managed to score a touch over 60 points per game and has been outscored by 55 total points in its last six losses.

While the offensive production has been down among the entire roster, senior Malcolm Hill has seen his production diminish. Hill has failed to eclipse 20 points since Jan. 7 and he has been 40-98 from the field over that time frame.

Since the team’s win over Michigan on Jan. 11, the Illini have not topped 50 percent from the field and have shot 33 percent over the past two games.

Groce’s job security

Groce has taken the brunt of the criticism for Illinois’ disappointing conference play, and while most of the disapproval has come of from fans, mainly via social media, some big names have commented on the situation.

Incoming Illini commit Trent Frazier took to Twitter, tweeting “Groce Not Going Anywhere #IBELIEVE.”

Frazier also said more players need to be held accountable for not producing on the floor.

The 6-foot-2 guard has helped push Illinois to the 11th-best recruiting class in 2017 and is the 105th best player in the class, according to 247 Sports.

Frazier’s comments were not the only buzz on Twitter recently, as Illini legend Dee Brown tweeted that he is ready to become a coach, citing his excitement with recent workouts he hosted at Chicago. Brown’s tweets were not directly aimed at the Illini coaching job, but speculation has been stirring lately about Groce’s job security. While Brown does not have head coaching experience, his ties to Illinois could make him a viable candidate if Groce is on the way out.

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