Notes, player grades from the Hoosier’s dominance at State Farm Center


James Hoeck

Indiana State’s forward Trayce Jackson-Davis blocks a layup from guard Sencire Harris during Friday’s game. Harris made over half of his shots during Thursday’s game but still needs improvement.

By Drew Friberg, James Kim and Carson Gourdie

Illinois got given a reality check on Thursday. Trayce Jackson-Davis couldn’t miss, but Underwood’s players didn’t exactly make it hard for him. Looking ahead in the schedule, Illinois rematches the Hoosiers at Assembly Hall in just a month. Major issues need to be addressed before then.

The odds weren’t stacked against the Illini by any means, but Mayer being sick didn’t help. He went 0-4 and played 21 minutes. Jayden Epps had an off night as well, shooting 1-8. When the team is missing 14 free throws on top of its two best shooters having an ice cold night, there truly is no contest.

Points in the paint

Trayce Jackson-Davis’ 35 points was just a part of Illinois’ blunder in the paint. 19 other points came from other Hoosiers in the paint, accounting for over half of Indiana’s points on Thursday. 

Realistically, getting outclassed in the paint in the Big Ten just isn’t an option if Underwood wants to make the tournament. Illinois has been outclassed by guards in their losses to Maryland and Penn State, and now likewise by Indiana’s not-so-big bigs.

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TJD is a great player, and he’s crafty at working spaces. But, there is not a single game left on Illinois’ schedule that is winnable if 54 paint points are scored against them.

Coleman Hawkins and Dain Dainja: L

Trayce Jackson-Davis had a field day, and every single basket he made — bar one — was with his left hand. No matter how hard you work offensively, giving up 35 points collectively is unacceptable.

In all honesty, Dain wasn’t terrible offensively or defensively. He didn’t exactly defend Jackson-Davis badly. TJD was on fire and there’s not much he could do to stop him. Showing him on his left was the issue, but even some of the best defensive moments from Dainja still resulted in another two points for TJD.

But Coleman wholeheartedly got bullied. On several occasions, he was nothing more than an orange cone for Jackson-Davis.

Putting up just over half of the points together that TJD scored by himself, there’s no rating that the pair deserves more than L. With Zach Edey coming up later in the season and another date with TJD in a month’s time, work needs to be done in the paint.

RJ Melendez: C

Being one of just two Illinois players on double digit points, it is hard to score RJ below a few other members of the team. But, five of those points came in garbage time with over a 15 point deficit.

He did, to his credit, make a huge three before the half, as well as grab a few huge rebounds during big points in the game. He is slowly transforming, so only time will tell if RJ can become a big moment player for this team.

Terrence Shannon Jr.: A-

While Shannon was arguably Illinois’ best player on the night, he wasn’t able to spark the team offensively. The Chicago native finished the game with 26 points against the Hoosiers, which is no easy feat. He was the Illini’s most consistent shooter, though that isn’t saying much given how inconsistent the team shot on Thursday night. The senior shot 8-18 from the field and 6-10 from the free throw line.

The bright spot was Shannon’s 4-7 accuracy from three provided State Farm Center with some exciting moments. However, the Illini weren’t able to garner any real momentum off of the few big plays they put together. 

Ty Rodgers: N/A

Rodgers saw just nine minutes and recorded a single rebound and assist each. There wasn’t much he could’ve done to change the outcome.

Matthew Mayer: N/A

Mayer has seen his offensive numbers surge in recent games and even had a double-double against Minnesota this week. But the Baylor transfer took a step back today. 

Upon learning he was sick and tried to play through the illness, it’s not fair to give him a grade. But, when he’s back to being healthy and it’s time to run this fixture back at Assembly Hall, he needs to step up and knock down his open looks.

Jaden Epps: D-

Epps took a fair amount of shots today — but they just didn’t fall in. 

Epps finished with only three points and went 1-8 from the field today. His shots weren’t entirely forced, and someone needed to step up with Mayer taking a huge step back today. With the team only finishing with a team total of seven assists, Epps needs to take a bigger role in the passing game and help create shots for others. 

Sencire Harris: B-

Harris has registered back-to-back competent offensive games — points wise.

Harris scored eight points and made over 50% of his shot attempts — although 0-2 from the charity stripe is a recurring issue. But even though Harris shot well, he still doesn’t look comfortable with dribbling in half-court situations, and he would be a liability to be trusted as a ball handler.


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