“It was a tough pass to catch,’’ said Clarkson. “I was trying to go full speed and the ball was just behind me a little bit. Tony still got a good shot.’’
But Clarkson knew that one play wasn’t the difference.
“We just had to make a play,’’ he said. “We had to make a stop at the end of the game. We just didn’t finish the game the way that we wanted to.’’
That something that the Illinois players and coaches have also said this season after losses to Georgia Tech and Oregon. This time around they were on the right side of the ledger.
“I thought our guys had a lot of toughness and I thought we had a lot of guys step up and make some plays,’’ Groce said. “We have been talking about it a lot. At some point, talk is cheap, you have to step up. We felt that the biggest deal was that we were allowing too many points per possession late in a couple of these games.”
“We had to get stops and rebound, and let the rest take care of itself.’’
Illinois will continue its string of three straight neutral site contests with a 1 p.m. game next Saturday at the United Center against Illinois-Chicago.