CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — From among trees, Alan Griffin emerged. Time and time again. Each time breaking through with the little orange ball, a reward for his battles in the brush against bigger defenders who were fighting for the chance at a rebound.
Griffin, though, was hellbent on securing each of his 12 rebounds, a career high, and the Illinois sophomore added 16 points for his first career double-double in the Illini’s 63-37 vicrtory over Purdue Sunday night at State Farm Center.
For his work, Griffin was subbed out of the game with 1 minute, 15 seconds left. A convincing Big Ten win was in tow as he left to a standing ovation and with his teammates in a line waiting to mob him to celebrate his performance.
“Energy boost,” Griffin said of the offensive rebounds. “That’s a goal coach gives us to see how many offensive rebounds we can get. Everybody is invited to the party.”
He nailed a layup with 9:51 left in the game on a nice pass from Trent Frazier to take a 13-point lead then connected on a deep 3-pointer more than two minutes later to extend the lead to 17 points. Six of Griffin’s 12 rebounds were offensive.
“His motor, and his energy that he creates coming off the bench is phenomenal,” Illinois coach Brad Underwood said. “I looked down and he played 19 minutes and I was like, ‘My goodness. I need him 25-30 minutes.’ I felt like he played that way, and he plays so hard. He’s doing an elite job of running the floor. He’s finding his 3s and he goes to the glass every time. That energy is what we look for coming in off the bench.”