The Illinois Fighting Illini ended their three game losing streak on Monday night, defeating the North Carolina State Wolfpack 88-74, in the Big 10/ACC challenge.After dropping a home game to Winthrop, and two New York City games to both #18 West Virginia, and #25 Florida State respectfully, the Illinois basketball program seemed to be at a new low. There are no excuses for dropping three straight games in the way in which the Illini did. At home, the Illini blew a 10 point lead with 3:00 to go in the game. Following that game, the Illini responded by getting absolutely blown out by West Virginia, in a game where the Illini didn’t even look like they should be on the same court as the Mountaineers. Finally, the day after being blown out by West Virginia, the Illini played well against a versatile Florida State Seminoles team, but faltered down the stretch, letting the game slip away and losing 72-61.
However, in a turnaround effort, the Illini came out hot on Monday night shooting a fiery 50% from the floor, defeating the North Carolina State Wolfpack in the Big10/ACC challenge, 88-74. The win was just about as close to a ‘must win’ as a non-conference game in November could get. The Illini left the game, possibly one of the best games Illini fans have seen in a very long time, with a swagger about them heading into a game against the VCU Rams in Miami on Saturday.
The Illini came out cold from the floor scoring just 4 points in the first four minutes of the game, and falling behind, by eight, but heating up as the game went on, and finishing with a 10 point lead at the half. During the second half, the Illini never let up. They shot 60% from three, followed by 50% from the floor, finishing out the game strong, and winning 64-46.
In the upcoming weeks, the Illini have even more opportunities to build their NCAA resume. With games against BYU and Missouri, the Illini would need to go 2-0 in both of those games, as well as win the rest of the ‘cupcakes’ left on the schedule, in order to continue in the recently observed upward trend.