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Ryan Evans, a 71 percent free-throw shooter entering the season, is considering making a drastic change to his approach at the charity stripe. It’s funny what a surprisingly low and unexpected 40.5 percent clip will make a player consider, huh? In Evans’ case, he’s toying with the idea of turning free throws into uncontested jump shots.
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Prior to Sunday’s tip vs. Ohio State, Wisconsin’s Ryan Evans was listed as questionable due to illness. Evans started despite being under the weather, and it’s a good thing he did. Not only did he help No. 20 Wisconsin beat No. 13 Ohio State, the senior provided one of the best individual highlights of his career with a remarkable second-half putback. Watch the dunk now and see the Twitter reaction to it in this post.
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Indiana held serve against Michigan State to move into a tie with Michigan atop the Big Ten standings. Normally, I’d use this opportunity to point out that although Indiana won by 5, the outcome actually suggests that Michigan State is the better team. But I don’t think that’s true here, because Indiana was equal to or better than the Spartans in all but one category—three-point shooting. MSU made 11 of its 23 attempts from behind the three-point line, and I’ll go ahead and call that an aberration.
Illinois’ weaknesses were exposed in a road loss against a mediocre Purdue team last night. The concerning thing isn’t so much that Illinois lost—Purdue isn’t a terrible team, just a terrible offensive team—it’s that it lost to Purdue despite hitting 10 three-pointers (38% from three on the night). Thus, it appears the “Illinois wins when it shoots well” maxim is incorrect. This team can shoot well, and still lose.
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Continuing the discussion of what each team could use this holiday season. Part one here.
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Up until Saturday night, Illinois’ season has been described in strange terms. At that point, it was “surprising” that Illinois was undefeated. The Illini won the Maui Invitational, which was a very “prestigious” early-season tournament. This isn’t normally how one talks about an undefeated team that’s ranked in the top-15.
Indiana made a living at the foul line in a chippy 13-point win over visiting Illinois. For about 30 minutes, this was a tight, back-and-forth game, with six lead changes and 14 ties. Over the final 10 minutes, however, the Hoosiers took advantage of the foul-riddled Illini to pull away. Indiana not only got to the foul line at an astounding rate; it also shot incredibly well from there, going 35 of 42 (83 percent). Paired with the Hoosiers’ customary accuracy from the field and a low turnover rate, it powered Indiana to a scorching 1.26 points per possession, the highest allowed by the Illinois defense all season.
After a long break in which it moved into first place, Illinois saw its offense lay an egg in a losing effort at Penn State. It was clear that, despite the rousing win over Ohio State, this is still the same Illinois team we’ve watched all season. Let’s again roll out what we’ll have to start calling the Illini table:
With Wednesday night’s game against Northwestern well in hand late in the second half, Wisconsin’s Ryan Evans provided quite the highlight with a powerful alley-oop. On a night when the Badgers did a majority of their damage from downtown (12 of 23; 52 percent), it was Evans and his zero 3-pointers who carried the load. The junior scored a team-high 17 points and grabbed a game-high eight rebounds in the easy 77-57 victory at the Kohl Center. And then there was that late alley-oop. Also, let’s not forget Jordan Taylor’s perfect pass to make it all possible. Watch it now.
Wisconsin and Michigan State squared off last night in a game that will not help the Big Ten’s national image. Via a combination of slow pace, good defense, and missed shots that both teams would normally make, the Spartans and Badgers labored for points. It took Michigan State over 13 minutes of game time to break into double digits–and even then they were only down two points. Wisconsin’s shooting nightmare that began against Iowa persisted, and it truly looked like the first team to 50 would win.