Indiana basketball takes on the Fighting Illini on Thursday night and needs to inhibit certain players in Champaign if the Hoosiers want a chance to win.
Demetri McCamey, Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, and Ayo Dosunmu. What do all of these former Illini guards have in common? They have all poured in 20+ points in home wins against the Hoosiers since 2008.
The last time Indiana basketball and Illinois faced off was in the 2022 Big Ten Tournament, where the Hoosiers held onto a 65-63 win. The Fighting Illini have won two straight games against the Hoosiers at home and have not lost since falling 92-74 in Champaign on March 7, 2019.
Aside from my three key players below, the Fighting Illini has a couple of players that can make somewhat of an impact on the game in all facets. From Dain Dainja in the post to freshman Jayden Epps off the bench, Brad Underwood has a litany of options that can hurt the Hoosiers on Thursday night.
Here are my three key Illinois Fighting Illini that the Hoosiers need to inhibit for Thursday night’s battle in Champaign:
Three Fighting Illini to inhibit for Indiana basketball on Thursday:
3. Coleman Hawkins – Junior Forward – #33
2022-23 stats: 18 GP, 29.9 MIN, 9.7 PPG, 6.1 REB, 3.3 AST, 1.1 BLK, 44.5 FG%, 32.9 3P%
Struggling with foul trouble in his last two games, Hawkins has averaged just 6.0 points and 6.0 rebounds in 26.5 minutes of action. Prior to his last two games, the junior forward averaged 13.3 points and 6.0 rebounds, along with shooting 20-for-38 (52.6 percent) from the field and 10-for-24 (41.7 percent) from beyond the arc.
The Illini don’t necessarily need Hawkins to score the ball for him to be impactful in the game. He’s similar to Race Thompson for Indiana, as he can be a “do it all” kind of player and have just as much of an impact on winning or losing as a guy that scores 30+ points.
If Hawkins is hitting shots from beyond the arc, Coach Woodson has to make adjustments and not let him stay hot. If Hawkins is the primary focus offensively for the Hoosiers, that’s going to be a problem and Indiana will likely come back home 2-5 in Big Ten play.