Kipper Nichols entered tonight's game with season totals of two field goals and two offensive rebounds in 18 minutes played.
Against Michigan, the Illinois freshman scored 13 points on 6-of-9 shooting and pulled down five offensive boards, one more than the Wolverines had as a team. Center Maverick Morgan, who averages 9.4 points per game, had 12 at halftime. At that point, the Illini were 20-for-32 from the field and had rebounded half of their missed shots; Michigan was shooting 64% and losing by 13. The second half played out in similar fashion, with Illinois stretching the lead out to 20 on four separate occasions before easing up late.
I've found the questioning of John Beilein's job security to be somewhere between reactionary and absurd for much of this season. With the defense looking unfixable even after the offseason hire of Billy Donlon, however, it's time to at least bring up the discussion, one that will only grow louder if the team continues to resemble the one that sleepwalked through tonight's game. It's a shocking development for a coach who resurrected the program, made a national title game, and won his second Big Ten title only three years ago. Beilein's offensive prowess is unquestionable; his recruiting and defensive coaching may lead to a change sooner than anyone could've reasonably expected not so long ago.