Illinois basketball has looked like a different team as of late.

The Fighting Illini downed Michigan State Friday night at home and have now won 3 straight games over the Spartans, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo noted why he thinks the Illini have been able to turn a corner as of late.

Part of that reason? Freshman point guard Skyy Clark. The Los Angeles native, formerly a Kentucky commit, announced on Jan. 6 that he would be stepping away from basketball at Illinois and will not play again for the Illini this season. His announcement came after a loss to Northwestern and, of course, Illinois is 3-0 since.

Illinois’ offensive and defensive rating have gone up significantly across the past 3 games according to Bart, s a site similar to KenPom for analyzing college basketball.

According to the metric, Illinois’ win over Nebraska was its best defensive game of the season, while all 3 games were the top offensive games of the season against Power 5 opponents. Stats don’t always tell the whole story, but there is definitely a correlation between his leaving the program and their success.

And that’s not necessarily because Clark is not talented. Instead, Izzo is pointing to Illinois players’ ability to fit better into their respective roles, with Terrence Shannon allowed to be more flexible 1-4 and Jayden Epps able to fill in more at a point guard role on the floor.