We used the last week in between games to get better as a team. Our bye week in conference came early this year, and our staff felt that our team used it productively on and off the court.
Last night served as a quality win in the Big Ten Conference for us. Purdue is a tough, athletic team that is extremely well coached by Matt Painter and his staff.
Protecting home court is a point of emphasis for our team. I sincerely believe that this mentality carried our guys last night through the tough stretches of the game. We knew going into the game that Purdue would not give up anything easily on the offensive and defensive end of the ball.
Our staff loved the unity that our team displayed throughout the game. Our staff consistently speaks to our student-athletes about being energy givers and not energy drainers. With a halftime deficit of one point, we felt our team showed great togetherness in what we would describe as the consummate team win.
Balanced scoring by our starters and positive contributions from our bench allowed us to pull away from the Boilermakers in the second half.
This next stretch of the season certainly serves as an opportunity for us to show our toughness. With games on Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday vs. conference opponents, we will have to manage our preparation and our team's energy level wisely.
In shifting our thoughts to Illinois, the first thing that jumps out to me is their skilled perimeter attack. With players like Brandon Paul, D.J. Richardson, Tracy Abrams and Joseph Bertrand, they are a versatile team that will challenge our ability to guard.
We look forward to traveling to Champaign this weekend to take on the challenge of playing a team whose shot-making ability makes them a dangerous match-up in the Big Ten Conference.