Jordan perseveres, works his way into impactful role for Illini
07 December, 2017, 11:33
In an era when roughly 40 percent of all men's Division I college basketball players transfer by the end of their sophomore seasons, Jordan never thought about, never had a desire to leave his home for the last two years and never put a toe in the water. Or the fact that they came back from a 22-point second half deficit to almost take down Maryland?
"Sometimes you have to walk before you can run and we could very easily be 9-0 but we're not", IL head coach Brad Underwood said.
Underwood and Figger coached together at two stops, Kansas State and SC, so their styles are similar.
Aaron Jordan came into Wednesday's game leading the nation in 3-point field goal percentage and averaging 12.9 points. Finke, who is still struggling with his outside shot, moved his game inside, and ended up 7-12 from the field. "We're 6-3 and along with that we've got to grow". Black recorded 16 points and four rebounds. Black did, however, have 5 turnovers in the game, something he attributes to his aggressive style of play.
Give him the ball.
IL (7-3, 0-2) trailed at the half 28-26, as the Governors took advantage of some sloppy play by the Illini.
"It's really, really good to fight through a game like tonight", Underwood said.
"I looked around the locker room at the half and it was like a morgue, with very little energy on our part. The message at the half was to play with more determination", Underwood added about the mood at the half. Williams started in place of fellow freshman Mark Smith, and finished with five points, four rebounds and a team-high three steals.
The Illini made 20 of 28 free throws and now head to Las Vegas, where they will play UNLV at 11 p.m. Saturday.
IL now has won 12 consecutive non-conference home games and four straight against Austin Peay.
6-foot-7 Austin Peay junior forward Averyl Ugba scored a team-high 15 points (7- 10 FG) while bringing down 8 rebounds, which was also a team-high.
Likewise, the Governors play a similar pace as IL (74 vs. 75.6 possessions per 40 min), but lack the ability to score like the Illini (74.6 vs. 85.1 points per game). IL won the battle of the boards by a 38-31 margin, and only had 9 assists.
Redhshirt junior Michael Finke and Leron Black helped IL overcome a slow start, and were the only Illini to score in double figures. "Every play call he made I knew and every play call I made he knew". He knocked down both free throws to make it a two-possession game and seal the victory. "We're not going to get blown out, we're better than that".
IL will head west for their next contest, which will be late on Saturday evening in Las Vegas against the UNLV Runnin' Rebels at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
They will still struggle to win games in the coming months, but at least they are finally getting Gallinari and Teodosić back. He shot a disappointing 35.5 percent, including 26 percent from 3-point range, in nine games before he was sidelined.
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