What an incredible night to be a Fighting Illini fan, and what a colossal beatdown of a team that some had rated as the No. 1 team in college basketball, if not top three by everyone associated with the game. No Ayo, no problem. Did I think it was possible? No. I wanted the Illini to stay in the game, muck things up and maybe get lucky with foul trouble and somebody getting hot late. What actually happened?
Well, after a really slow start for both teams offensively, the Illini remained right there at 10-10 midway through the first half. That was huge. I can't stress that enough. Michigan had its chances in the first 10 minutes to build some cushion and they didn't do it. And in the final 30 minutes? The Illini dominated at both ends of the floor, with a defensive effort for the ages standing out above all else. Defense? Yes, defense.
It is somewhat refreshing to see defense have such an impact, and there's no denying its impact in this game. Look at that effort! You want to screen Trent Frazier? Good luck. You think you can outhustle Andre Curbelo, Jacob Grandison or Da'Monte Williams? Try again. A silver lining? A blessing in disguise? My goodness - did Ayo Dosunmu's injury help propel this Illinois team to a new level?
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