Penalties, turnovers to blame in Illinois loss

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Penalties, turnovers to blame in Illinois loss

CHAMPAIGN The Illinois football faithful are not suffering alone.
After a disappointing 31-17 loss on Homecoming, Illini head coach Tim Beckman said he has lost 22 pounds during his teams losing streak, which extended to five games on Saturday.
"You think I like losing? I havent been around it. I hate it," Beckman said. "Its not acceptablewe want to win and were not getting done."
Personal foul penalties, a muffed punt and a fumble were directly at fault for Illinois' woes against Indiana. The visiting Hoosiers scored 21 points after penalties or turnovers to hand Illinois a loss on homecoming.
Dont turn ball over, dont beat yourself, Beckman said. Indiana didnt have penalties, they didnt turn the ball over, and they won the game. No ones a good enough team to do those things and win.
Early in the game, however, everything was coming up Illinois. On the Hoosiers first drive of the game Ashante Williams came up with a big third down stop to force a three-and-out to get the ball in the hands of Nathan Scheelhaase. The Illini quarterback did not disappoint the homecoming crowd with his first chance of the day.
On the first play from scrimmage Scheelhaase found a wide-open Darius Millines for 28 yards, crossing into IU territory. Two plays later he kept the ball and rushed for 19 yards, setting Illinois up at the Hoosiers 26. Millines got back in on the fun shortly after, fending off a defender for a 15-yard catch and run, bringing Illinois to the three-yard line.
Scheelhaase finished the drive with an easy pass on the right side to tight end Eddie Viliunas for a three-yard touchdown. The touchdown was Illinois first since the fourth quarter of their Oct. 6 game at Wisconsin.
Indiana responded quickly, marching 75 yards in three minutes to tie the game at seven. A costly unnecessary roughness penalty on Terry Hawthorne led to large passing gains from Cameron Coffman to Cody Latimer and DAngelo Roberts. Those passes set up running back Stephen Houston, who put IU on the board with a three-yard run.
The Illinois defense responded positively to Indianas touchdown, however. On the next IU drive Michael Buchanan put heavy pressure on Coffman, forcing him to throw a floater right into the arms of defensive back Steve Hull.
Illinois offense came short on the next drive, but the defense got them the ball back quickly, forcing a punt deep in Indiana territory.
After getting the ball back, Illinois started to exploit holes in the Indiana defensive line. Running back Donovonn Young and Scheelhaase combined to run for three straight first downs from the end of the first quarter into the second quarter. With 12:12 left in the first half, Scheelhaase finished the drive with a five-yard run, giving Illinois a 14-7 lead over the guests.
The lead did not last long, as another personal foul penalty hurt Illinois on the ensuing Indiana drive. After a sack, Justin Staples was flagged for a late hit out of bounds, giving IU a first down. With Nate Sudfeld in at quarterback, the Hoosiers immediately capitalized. The new QB found Latimer open in the middle for a 48-yard gain.
Sudfeld finished the drive and tied the game with a 10-yard pass to Houston at 10:10.The Illini offense could not do much on the next drive, but the defense bailed them out by stopping IU in short order. The Indiana offense would not be driven from the field so easily, however, as Tommy Davis muffed the punt, giving the Hoosiers the ball back deep in Illinois territory.
Illinois got the Hoosiers in trouble again, forcing fourth and one, but were done in by penalties again. This time Glenn Foster jumped offside on fourth down, giving Indiana a fresh set of downs from the seven yard line. IU only needed one play, however. Houston scored his third touchdown of the day on the first play after the penalty, putting Indiana ahead 21-14.
The game would go to halftime without any further scoring, Illinois trailing 21-14.On the first drive of the second half, Young coughed up the football, setting Indiana up at the Illinois 20. Defense would hold firm, however, and force the Hoosiers to kick. Mitch Ewalds kick was good and IU took a 24-14 lead with 8:04 in the third.
The Illini offense came right back at Indiana on the next drive. Millines pulled in a pair of receptions over 10 yards to get Illinois deep in their opponents territory. Runs from Scheelhaase and Young would come up short, however, forcing Illinois to settle for a field goal.
Taylor Zalewskis kick with 2:33 left in the third brought Illinois back within a touchdown, 24-17.
Neither team would create much after the field goal, with Indianas defense coming up with timely stops and the offense content to run the clock down. The Hoosiers running game got on a roll midway through the fourth quarter, however.
Indiana ran the ball five times, marching from their own 40 to the Illinois 17. From there, Sudfeld ran a play action to the right and got the Illinois defense to bite hard. He then hit Shane Wynn at the other side of the field for a 17-yard touchdown reception, putting IU ahead, 31-17.
Scheelhaase led a furious drive in the final three minutes, finding receiver Ryan Lankford open three times for gains of 11, 24 and 15 yards. The drive reached the Indiana 15-yard line before the Hoosiers secondary came up with a stop.
After a sack and three incomplete passes, Indiana took over and knelt to kill off the remaining minute-and-a-half.
After the game, Illinois coaches and players lamented their inability to overcome errors and finish the game strongly. The Illini led in first downs (23-14), rushing yards(196-121), and passing yards (176-171) but could not make those advantages count.
We came out strong better than we usually did, but weve got to finish what we started at the end. This was a tough loss, Millines, who had a season high in receiving with 80 yards, said.
Were just not to the point right now where we can overcome any setbacks, offensive coordinator Chris Beatty said. When we sit back and get a penalty here or there, were not good enough to overcome that. At some point we will be, but right now were not.

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott's return boosts Bulls' bench

Doug McDermott wasn’t exactly hunting for his first shot, but the first time he touched the ball in an NBA game in nearly a month wasn’t the optimal situation for him to let one fly.

It wasn’t in transition where he runs to an opening behind the 3-point line, nor was it a drive-and-kick situation where the help defense collapsed and left him open. It was a regular, simple, pass to the perimeter and McDermott’s defender was in reasonable proximity with 3:23 left in the first quarter.

He launched and the crowd soon roared its approval as his sweet jumper was sorely missed by the Bulls bench brigade—and moments later when he ran the floor for a fearless layup that caused Spurs coach Gregg Popovich to call a timeout, McDermott showed he missed the United Center crowd too, calling for more noise on his way to the bench.

“Anytime you have a guy like Doug, he comes back and makes his first 3, that’s hard to do,” Bulls coach Fred Hoiberg said. “He stepped up with confidence on that first shot. I’m sure he had a lot of nerves getting back out there.”

Missing 12 games and suffering two concussions, McDermott looked right at home in 25 minutes of run Thursday as the Bulls were able to rely on their reserves in some form in their 95-91 win over the previously perfect road warriors known as the Spurs.

“We defended and kept them off the foul line,” McDermott said. “Coach (Jim) Boylen was with them, so we feel we know them and I think all this time they were missing my defense.”

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The last statement was certainly tongue-in-cheek, but the Bulls’ bench production was certainly missing in action while he was out with the concussion protocol. So much so that his return prompted the Bulls’ coaching staff to call out the reserves in the morning shootaround, demanding more.

“It’s definitely Dwyane (Wade) and Jimmy (Butler) and (Rajon) Rondo (but) the coaching staff kinda called out our bench like, we gotta have you tonight, bench,” McDermott said. “We took that to heart, we were really locked in.”

Seemingly his presence aided the Bulls’ spirits and production, as the Bulls’ bench had the least effective scoring bench in the NBA since Nov. 13, the day after McDermott hit the unforgiving floor against the Wizards for his second concussion this season.

Their net rating ranks ahead of only the Wizards, Mavericks and Nets, who are a combined 17-45 this season. Their effective field goal percentage, which takes into account 3-pointers, is worst in the league in that span (42.3 percent).

When McDermott was healthy for that smaller sample size, the Bulls’ bench ranked fifth in offensive efficiency, seventh in net rating, and fifth in efficient field goal percentage. Whether McDermott – and his absence – was directly related to those numbers, it’s clear the Bulls are better when they have their best reserve – and only true floor spacers on the second unit – on the court.

“We’re all professionals and we want to help the guys who are busting their butts in the first unit to get us the leads,” McDermott said. “Tonight we did a great job of sustaining it. We take it personal when teams come back on us.”

[MORE: Pau Gasol relishes consistency with Spurs he couldn't find with Bulls]

Nikola Mirotic was four of eight from the field, and Cristiano Felicio seems to be back in Fred Hoiberg’s good graces as he’s carved out a rotation spot for himself with nine points and seven rebounds in 18 minutes.

It seems as if Hoiberg will stick with this rotation of players, at least for a little while until Michael Carter-Williams returns from his injuries. If McDermott is the mark of the Bulls’ bench going from bottom feeder to adequate, it should show this month.

“When he’s out there on the floor and we get him coming off screens, it forces the defense to shift as another person they need to be aware of,” Hoiberg said. “It opens up driving lanes for our guys. It was great to have Doug back with us.”

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