Illinois vs. Austin Peay
TV: Big Ten Network
If Illinois has another close game tonight, sound the alarms. Playing against Austin Peay, the Illini should easily secure their seventh victory of the season and end a three-game losing streak.
The Governors come to Champaign with a 4-4 record, but their wins have come at the hands of imaginary schools Oakland City, Bethel, Miami (Ohio), and Alabama A&M. Offensively and defensively Austin Peay does not grade out well, ranking 284 and 264 by KenPom.com’s adjusted metrics, respectively. Southern (330) and NC Central (295) are the only Illini foes rated lower than the Governors by KenPom (287).
A couple freshmen, Dayton Gum and Terry Taylor, are leading Austin Peay this year, averaging 13.6 and 12.6 points per game, respectively. Despite being led by inexperienced players, the Governors take care of the ball relatively well, with just 3 more turnovers than Illinois on the season (131 vs. 128), and foul much less often than the Illini (159 vs. 209). Likewise, the Governors play a similar pace as Illinois (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).
Overall, this should be a way for Illinois to get back on the winning track and maybe implement some new wrinkles into their play. Whether or not Brad Underwood tinkers with the defense, as he did last year at Oklahoma State to correct a six-game skid, remains to be seen.
Picture by Mike Pauza