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Notes, takeaways from Illinois’ loss to Georgetown

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Notes, takeaways from Illinois’ loss to Georgetown

True freshman point guard Ayo Dosunmu jumps for a layup during the game against Georgetown at the State Farm Center Tuesday. Dosunmu finished with 25 points as the Illini lost 88-80.

True freshman point guard Ayo Dosunmu jumps for a layup during the game against Georgetown at the State Farm Center Tuesday. Dosunmu finished with 25 points as the Illini lost 88-80.

Austin Yattoni

True freshman point guard Ayo Dosunmu jumps for a layup during the game against Georgetown at the State Farm Center Tuesday. Dosunmu finished with 25 points as the Illini lost 88-80.

Austin Yattoni

Austin Yattoni

True freshman point guard Ayo Dosunmu jumps for a layup during the game against Georgetown at the State Farm Center Tuesday. Dosunmu finished with 25 points as the Illini lost 88-80.


The Illini men’s basketball team was without its starting point guard, as sophomore Trent Frazier was ruled out with a concussion before tipoff Tuesday night.  Junior guard Andres Feliz got the start instead and had 13 points to go with five assists. The Illini missed Frazier as they went on a five-and-a-half-minute scoring drought, where it seemed like they were lacking his playmaking and shot creation.

“We’ve done ‘Trent’s our guy’ since everybody got here,” said head coach Brad Underwood. “Trent sprays the basketball. Trent is an electric guard, and we didn’t have that.”

Underwood said among the players, senior guard Aaron Jordan was most affected by Frazier’s absence. Jordan finished with just one point without making a field goal.

With Frazier’s absence and Feliz starting, the Hoyas had a 22-point bench scoring advantage — something that didn’t surprise Hoya’s head coach Patrick Ewing.

“We have a very deep team,” Ewing said. “It was a total team effort, not just the starting perimeter guys.”

Underwood said Frazier was certainly missed defensively.

“It’s where we miss Trent the most,” Underwood said. “Trent is very vocal on the court. He’s taken five charges. He’s a great help-side defender.”

In Frazier’s absence, true freshman point guard Ayo Dosunmu put on another strong performance in front of the home crowd. Leading all scorers with 25 points, Dosunmu demonstrated why he was one of the top-ranked guards in the country. After the game, he gave credit to those cheering him on in the stands.

“The fans were amazing,” Dosunmu said. “Everyone was amazing. I’m just upset myself because the fans gave it their all cheering, and we couldn’t get the W for them.”

Underwood said the loss wasn’t on Dosumu’s performance whatsoever, but his reaction during the post-game demonstrated a special level of maturity.

“A young man came in here and took blame for a loss two games into his career,” Underwood said. “Are you kidding me?”

New debuts

Both graduate transfer Adonis De La Rosa and freshman Alan Griffin made their Illini debuts against Georgetown, with De La Rosa being one of the first players off the bench and Griffin coming in a bit later in the first half. De La Rosa finished scoreless without even a rebound after struggling offensively, wearing a bulky knee brace on the right knee he had surgery on. He also looked a step slow defensively as on multiple drives, he couldn’t get into position to contest.

“(De La Rosa) is a guy who needs to get into shape,” Underwood said. “Adonis is gonna help us a bunch; he take up so much space. He’s a guy who imposes his way with people.”

Griffin hit an open three off a nice pass from Kipper Nichols, but it wasn’t all good for the freshman since he seemed to lose track of the clock before half, throwing up an ugly airball and allowing Georgetown to get the last shot of the half. Griffin didn’t see as much run in the second half as the Illini’s starting guards stayed out of foul trouble.

Closing struggles

While the Illini hung around all game with the Hoyas, they could not take control down the stretch as a 72-68 lead with seven-and-a-half minutes turned the game into an 88-80 loss. While the most visibly responsible player for the end-of-game struggles was Kipper Nichols, who had an ugly turnover to go with a missed layup and airballed three-pointer, the problems don’t fall directly on the shoulders of the 6-foot-6-inch junior. The Illini missed an opportunity to go two-for-one down four with a little under a minute to go and were unable to score.

“We had a clean look,” Underwood said. “We ran an action we always run. I liked the opportunities we got.”

Nichols hasn’t lost the confidence of his teammates, despite his struggles.

“At the end of the day, I said 100 times out of 100, I will kick it to him,” Dosunmu said. “At the end of the day, some nights, it doesn’t go your way.”

On to the next one

Despite the tough loss, Underwood and the Illini aren’t hanging their heads.

“I walked into that locker room, and there (weren’t) guys that were hanging their heads,” Underwood said. “It was a group that was pissed off, and they were frustrated with themselves. They’re ready to tackle their mistakes.”

It’s a good thing they aren’t too hung up on the loss because coming up next is the toughest stretch of their non-conference schedule. The Illini travel to Maui and will face No. 3-ranked Gonzaga, another stop on a schedule  Underwood called the best in program history.

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