DECATUR, ILL. (WAND-TV) -- The Illini (9-3, 2nd Big Ten) are simply put, playing with fire.
They are fresh off a big 81-56 win over Northwestern after having trailed after the first half 43-28.
However, instead of getting burned by the fire, Illinois is just staying warm and thus successful. Mainly because of two factors: tenacity and energy.
"I think it's just the tenacity that Coach Underwood kind of instills in us in practice," redshirt junior guard/forward Jacob Grandison said. "Just kind of playing through his teachings and his methods, just being tough and nasty."
Now that tenacity that Grandison brought up is probably the biggest tool in Illinois' tool box.
It's not just what allows Illinois to come from behind in big games, but it also helps build higher effort levels during the games.
Take Rutgers for example. Offensive rebounding in that game saw a charge to the basket by Illinois players at just 27-percent of the time. In the game against Northwestern, let's just say the number was a little higher.
"We go to the glass 77-percent of the time, we have somebody that charts every time somebody goes to the offensive glass," Illinois Head Coach Brad Underwood said. "Those are effort things. Well, Jacob Grandison comes in and gets rebounds and creates energy and second shots and those are things we can control out of this and we gotta make sure that we understand as a group why we had a half like that. It wasn't just because the ball went in. It was because of the energy and the effort and the choices we made from an effort standpoint, to be great."