6 takeaways from Illinois' big win over Duke
A few takeaways following No. 6 Illinois' 83-68 win over No. 10 Duke in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Tuesday night.
Three moments that mattered
1. Statement win: These are the type of victories that will pop on the Illini's resume come March. They missed a chance to get one in last week against No. 2 Baylor, but responded impressively.
2. Not all Ayo: Illinois raced to a 14-2 lead to start the game and 43-29 at halftime despite another slow start from star guard Ayo Dosunmu. It's an encouraging sign to see so many other players step up -- 6 players scored in double figures. And by the end of the night Ayo was Ayo with 18 points, 12 rebounds and 5 assists.
3. History repeats: Hardly anybody beats Mike Krzyzewski at Cameron Indoor. He's 261-11 against nonconference foes, but the Illini have his number. They are now 2-0 at Duke during Coach K's tenure; they also broke the Blue Devils' 95-game nonconference home winning streak in 1995 spearheaded by the play of Kiwane Garris, Jerry Hester and Richard Keene under late coach Lou Henson.
Three things that worked
1. Three-point shooting: Illinois has come a long way from its 29% three-point shooting last season -- dead last in the Big Ten. They entered at 46% and built their big lead by hitting 6 of 8 3s in the first half to Duke's 0-7. They finished at 63.6% (7-11) to Duke's 5-22.
2. Mr. Basketball matchup: Illinois' Adam Miller squared off against Duke's DJ Steward, a pair of freshman guards who finished 1-2 in last year's Illinois Mr. Basketball voting. Miller won that tight race by two votes, and his three early three-pointers helped set the tone Tuesday.
3. Andre Curbelo: Still too many turnovers -- five on the night -- by the freshman guard, and it's a roller coaster so far, but he also made several key plays with his ability to break down defenses. Giorgi Bezhanishvili played his second straight strong game off the bench, and Da'Monte Williams made all kinds of winning plays.
The Illini didn't make many mistakes except a few sloppy stretches, especially to start the second half when the Illini struggled to break Duke's press. They turned the ball over 18 times, 12 in the second half.
Illinois renews its annual Braggin' Rights Game on Saturday at Missouri (3-0) who already has upset Oregon. It's the first time since 1979 the game won't be played in St. Louis. The Illini lead the all-time series 32-18 but have lost the last two, made more painful by the fact three of Mizzou's top five scorers -- Mark Smith, Javon Pickett and Jeremiah Tilmon -- are all either Illinois transfers or Illinois de-commits.