Illini Tale of the Tape: Vanderbilt Commodores vs. Illinois (12/8/2009)

Good morning, and thanks for coming back for another installment of Illini Tale of the Tape.

Here’s a look back at Illinois’ 79-68 victory against the then 24th-ranked Vanderbilt Commodores at the Assembly Hall, when our center was better than theirs.

I don’t know about you but when I think of Vanderbilt centers, I think of Will Perdue instead of A.J. Ogilvy.

Also I can’t believe that I actually found a Will Perdue Vanderbilt image on the web.

Anyways, thanks for your patience, as I try to make these game reviews more streamlined and efficient.

Let’s do this thing.

For a reference point, here is Vanderbilt’s starting lineup:

G Jermaine Beal, G Brad Tinsley, F Jeffrey Taylor, F Andrew Walker, C A.J. Ogilvy, Head Coach: Kevin Stallings.

Where I Was for This Game: Watching from home, looking for the Illini to prove themselves against a ranked opponent. To the Illini’s credit, they played one of their best games of the season.

What I Remember from This Game:

Illini center Mike Tisdale tearing up the more heralded Vanderbilt big man, Ogilvy.

Illinois playing a very solid game for 40 minutes, showing a controlled focus and energy that was lacking at times in the first eight games of the season.

What Surprised Me Upon Second Viewing:

Forgot that Wayne Larrivee and Doug Altenberger did this game. Always enjoy listening to Larrivee, although he can get a bit too excited at times. Altenberger describes keys to the game as follow: Vanderbilt must limit turnovers and get Ogilvy touches; Illinois must contain dribble penetration and improve rebounding from the guard position. His point about the dribble penetration is on the money, especially for McCamey, who has struggled in this area early in the season. By the way, Altenberger is typically excellent as well – not to sound like a homer.

Entering this game, Illinois had won the last 6 meetings against the SEC. Of course, they would make it seven straight after this game, but then lose to Georgia later in December.

Vanderbilt has some international flair on its team, with the obvious (Ogilvy from Australia) and not-so-obvious (Steve Tchiengang from Cameroon; Festus Ezeli from Nigeria and Jeffery Taylor from Sweden).

Forgot that Vandy played in the Maui Invitational, going 2-1 (losing to Cincinnati in the first round and beating Chaminade and Arizona). I caught the end of the Vandy-Arizona game after getting home from work, and wasn’t overwhelmed.

Knew Illinois got off to a hot start, but forgot that they jumped out to a 9-0 lead.

Did not know that Kevin Stallings was a junior at Purdue when Gene Keady and Weber came from Western Kentucky.

Forgot that Vanderbilt freshman John Jenkins led the nation in scoring as a high school senior, with 40 points a game.

Didn’t realize just how good Illinois was in the first half on both ends. What a contrast from the Boise State game.

Must have felt good about the way this game was going as I recorded pits and pieces of The Office on TBS during commercials and halftime, including the classic warehouse basketball game. (Note: caught some of the new season of the office on Thursday night – I have to say that I think that show has lost its touch and will be done pretty soon).

● With Illinois leading comfortably at the end, I also switched to and recorded the end of the Bulls game. On this night, the Bulls gave the New Jersey Nets their second win of the season, dropping an embarrassing game at the United Center.

Illinois’ women’s team hosted Marquette the day after the Illinois-Vandy game. Don’t know who won, but my brother (a Marquette grad) and I have been waiting for a couple of years for this matchup in men’s hoops. Almost happened in Maui in 2007, when Illinois lost to Duke in the semifinals and Marquette lost to Duke in the title game. I also believe Illinois and Marquette’s women’s teams played in the Women’s NIT last season. Yep. They did. Illinois would beat Marquette 74-72 in overtime of a second round Women’s NIT Game and avenge an early season 10-point loss to the Eagles. Both games were at the Assembly Hall.

Speaking of Marquette, I’ve heard several announcers compare Paul to Dwyane Wade in these first couple of games from last season. Don’t know about that. I think the Kendall Gill comparison is more apt.

First Half Commentary

● Bruce Weber: Must have gotten on his team about their intensity in the Boise State game, as the Illini look like a much different team out of the gate. Weber isn’t heard screaming on the sideline, as his team is playing great ball.

Like Weber’s use of the bench through first eight minutes, as he is playing Tisdale, Davis and McCamey and using Jordan to steal a minute before the under-12.

Nice game plan with the screen and roll game, which Vandy struggled to guard against Illinois in 2008-2009.

Good timeout at 5:14 as Illinois’ lead is at 11 (31-20). The Illini have been a bit sloppy on a couple of possessions with big lead. Nice time to remind them to get back to basics. Uses another timeout less than a minute later when Illinois struggles to get the ball into the front court.

Nice scouting here tonight in terms of exposing Vandy’s weakness in pick and roll and penetration. First play of the game was a backdoor cut for Paul. Weber has to be extremely happy with his team’s performance. Barring a few missed assignments and careless decisions, the Illini were nearly perfect.

● Demetri McCamey: Buries his first shot, a three on Illini’s second possession, for a 5-0 lead. Misses his second shot, created against Tinsley with a nice pop back and a bit of a push off. Slow job recovering on Tinsley off a screen leads to a three and an 11-5 Illinois lead with 16:09 to go.

Gives up another three to Tinsley, with 14:34 to go to make it a 16-9 game. Slow recovery off a screen there. Still struggles in this area of the game. Three-point shot keeping Vandy in this game early. Puts Illinois back up nine with a nice square up and pull at 14:05. Good use of his upper body to create a little space on that shot. Aggressive turnover with 13:32 to go, when he tries to hit Richardson on the break. The pass wasn’t there, unless it had more elevation. First turnover for the Illini leads to an open Vanderbilt three that is missed. Has stayed out of foul trouble early.

Great job attacking the press at nine minutes. Vanderbilt fails to get anyone in front of him, and McCamey goes about 85 feet for a layup. Good push and control there gives Illinois a 27-15 lead.

Turns the ball over with a carry at 6:21. Good penetration though. Vandy having a hard time containing McCamey. On next possession, makes sloppy, overhead pass to Tisdale, who does a nice job of swatting it out to Paul, who misses a three. Good idea on the pass but not executed well. Does not do a good job of moving his feet as Tinsley blows by him and draws a foul. First foul on McCamey . Tinsley hits two free throws to cut the game to 31-20. Tinsley has 10 of 20 points for Vandy, with McCamey the primary defender on him.

Great job against the 3-2 zone with 3:21 to go in the half. Gets lost behind the zone and makes a layup for a 37-24 lead.

Stretches the lead back to 12 at 41-29 with 2:18 to go. Another Illini basket off the bounce. Comes back immediately with a steal in the backcourt but can’t finish a layup. Illinois fans on several put backs, including Paul and Davis. Still, got to like the overall effort and hustle game from the Illini.

Efficient first half, with 11 points on 5-for-7 shooting, and 4 assists.

Brandon Paul: At under 16, scores on first possession of the game, off a nice back screen from Tisdale and cut to the lane. Easy layup there and good start for the freshman. Assist to D.J. (sound likes Johnny Most) on that play. Misses an open three on Illinois’ third possession, although it was a good clean look. Assists on Tisdale’s second bucket. While early in the year, Paul has impressed me with his passing, especially when under control. Nice job of reading the screen and roll game there.

Out of under-16, gets caught under a screen and gives up dribble penetration, leading to an Illinois foul in-close on Davis. Vandy hits one of two free throws to cut the game to 15-6. Great explosion and crossover at 12:30 nearly leads to a big-time slam. However, he misses the dunk (may have took off from a bit too far). Still, a remarkable look at Paul’s athleticism. Lost the ball on the way up and may have been fouled by Ogilvy. Misses a layup at 11 minutes off a fast break started by a Davis block. Tough shot there against the trees. Follows up on the other end with a defensive rebound.

Excellent ball movement by Illinois leads to a Paul three and 25-15 lead with 9:32 game. That was terrific there, with the ball hitting Davis in the corner. Davis then found McCamey underneath, who didn’t force a shot over Ogilvy but dribbled out and hit Paul with a cross-court pass. Looked like the 2005 Illini there (granted with fewer passes). Paul is having a really solid game in first ten minutes. He’s got seven already. Makes a ridiculously sick pass to Davis for a 29-18 lead at 8:05. Off the screen and roll game from the left wing, Paul dribbles to the middle and bounces the ball behind his back to Davis, who cans an open jumper from the wing. Paul with more distribution skills than I realized.

Rattles a three in and out with 5 minutes and change to go. Altenberger pays Paul and Richardson a great compliment, saying that he believes they are in a class of Deron Williams and Dee Brown in terms of talent. Paul is compared to a young Kendall Gill, which is a good comparison.

Excellent court vision against the 3-2 zone with 3:21 left. At the top of the key, finds a streaking McCamey, who gets behind the Commodores and lays in an easy bucket. Commits a good, clean foul against Vandy with 1:54 left. One of the few times that Vandy has had to run tonight. We see Paul’s length again on this play – in three straight games, he has made or nearly made sweeping blocks from behind. Just missed one there as Taylor was fouled and hits both free throws for a 41-31 game.

Follows a nice assist on a Keller three, with a careless turnover. Not strong enough with the ball as it’s stripped away from him, leading to a Vandy fast break, layup and eight point game (44-36) with 46.4 seconds left.

D.J. Richardson: On Vanderbilt second possession, draws a charge on Beal. Great job of moving his feet. Gets on the board at 16:29, with a nice dribble drive and pull up. It’s nice to see Richardson take his game inside the three-point line.

Great hops at 7:31, when he skies for a defensive rebound over Ogilvy, who has one shot and is not involved at all. Richardson then banks in a runner a few seconds later for a 31-18 lead. We’re seeing his mid-range game tonight. Richardson has not attempted a three yet.

Misses first three at 6:48.

Cans another jumper off the dribble with 2:47 to go for a 39-26 lead. That’s three times this half that Richardson has scored off the bounce. Showing another dimension of his offensive game. That one was effortless, and looked too easy. Great explosion.

Mike Davis: Gets first shot at 15:37 and has it blocked by Tchiengang. Tough shot there with shot clock running down. Nice entry pass from Paul, but a difficult angle for Davis.

Nice feed to Jordan for a jumper. Blocks a Vandy shot at 11 minutes that leads to a fast break that Paul can’t convert. Quiet offensively but having a solid game, especially as a passer in the middle of the zone.

Not involved offensively in terms of getting his shots, but is not letting it affect his offensive game. Provides great help line defense for Semrau against Tchiengang and then does a nice job of closing out in the opposite corner against Beal, who hits a tough three with 8:27 to go. Simply a case of great offense being better than great defense there. Still, good activity from Davis.  Gets rewarded for his defense on next possession, as Paul hits him with a sick behind-the-back pass for a wing jumper and 29-18 Illinois lead.

With Tisdale out, Davis gives up an Ogilvy floater at 3:50, cutting the game to 35-24. This will be an interesting match up, as Davis doesn’t have the upper body of Ogivly. Neither does Tisdale, but it hasn’t mattered thus far. Ogilvy scores on the next Vandy possession against Davis, getting good post position and hitting a righty hook shot. Davis struggles, at times, in terms of allowing bigger opponents to get their behinds into his stomach and establish great position. Game is down to 37-26.

Just 2 points and 2 rebounds in the first half, but those stats don’t tell of the floor game he’s having. He’s been excellent flashing the middle of the zone and kicking to the short corner. Early in the year, I have been impressed with Davis’ ability to swing the ball in the motion offense.

Mike Tisdale: Great ball denial on first Vanderbilt possession, playing over the top of Ogilvy and stealing the entry pass. Buries his first jumper, a baseline bucket with 17:45 to go to give Illinois a 7-0 lead. Nice look ahead there from McCamey. On previous defensive possession, forced Ogilvy to take a long jumper, which was missed badly. Make it 9-0 Illinois as Tisdale buries a jumper from the opposite corner. Play set up off a Paul screen and roll. Vanderbilt takes a timeout.

Returns at 15:12 for Davis. Hits a running one-hander off an inbound play for a 16-6 lead with 14:55 to go. Nice find by McCamey there. 3-for-3 from the field. Only had 4 shots against Boise State (he made them all). He has not missed in a while, including late buckets in the win against Clemson. Offensive rebound at 11:26 (off Cole miss) keeps Illini possession alive. Great activity thus far. On previous defensive possession, got in the way of Ogilvy, who fumbled and lost a pass in the lane. Then hits a corner jumper against the 3-2 zone. He is on fire and outscoring Ogilvy 8-0 at this point. Finally misses a corner jumper with 10:30. Was wide open, as Illinois is doing a good job of getting into the middle of the zone and hitting the short corner. Forces a jump ball at the 10:15 mark. Possession arrow to Vandy as we get the under-12 timeout.  If only Tisdale came out like this every game. He’s having his way with Ogilvy and Vandy, which has not respected his shooting abilities.

Out of Weber timeout, slams home a dunk at 5:01 to give Illinois a 33-20 lead. Great ball movement again against Vandy’s press, with Keller earning a well-deserved assist there. Doing a little woofing there at Ogilvy, who was late and got partially dunked on. Ogilvy draws a foul on Tisdale on the next possession and then scores on a layup. Tisdale fell asleep there as Ogilvy set a fake screen and dove to the hoop. 33-22 Illinois. Tisdale has scored in double figures in last six games, which is surprising considering his lack of touches at times (not in this game though). Ogilvy was 13-for-15 from free throw line in last game against DePaul. Tisdale responds on the next Illini possession, hitting another corner jumper against the zone. Ogilvy struggles closing out. Illinois up 35-22. Ogilvy and Tisdale are going at each other with the Aussie drawing a blocking foul against the Illini center. Still, Tisdale is dominating this match up without a question in the first 16 minutes. Tisdale is playing with a controlled nastiness that you don’t always see.

Dominique Keller: First sub for Illinois, in for Tisdale after under-16. Immediately comes in with shot clock down (following Davis blocked shot) and hits a nasty three pointer. Crossed over Tchiengang  and pulled up on a dime. Great recognition of the shot clock there. Illinois up 14-5. Refs checking to see if it was a three. It was. Altenberger says Keller has had some problems adapting in terms of being a big-time scorer in junior college versus being an energy player off the bench asked to do the little things. Misses a corner three on the next Illinois possession. A good look there.

Good switch and active hands at 5:58 leads to a deflection out of bounds. Assists on a Tisdale dunk at 5:01. Great job there against the Vandy zone as Illinois never let the ball touch the ground. Keller is especially athletic there, catching the ball in the air at the free throw line and spoon feeding Tisdale for a dunk.

Buries a corner three with 1:28 to go. Great ball movement again against the zone as the ball was eventually swung to Paul, who got into the middle of the zone and hit Keller in the opposite corner. This is the type of effort that Illinois needs from Keller off the bench. Illinois now leads 44-31.

Bill Cole: Second Illini off the bench, with 14:10 to go. Fails to get a body on Walker, who rebounds a missed three and lays it in for an 18-11 game with 13:23 to go. Follows up with a bad job handling the Vanderbilt pressure. While getting trapped his half-court pass is stolen and leads to a Tinsley layup and 18-13 game with 13:06 to go. Tinsley with eight. McCamey and Richardson bumped into each other on that play. Misses a corner three with 11:23 to go. Didn’t get good lift there.

Good effort at 6:48, nearly getting an offensive board off of a Richardson missed three. Gets a floor burn on the next defensive possession, providing a nice box out and then diving on the floor as a loose ball goes to McCamey.

Jeff Jordan: Third Illini off the bench, just before under-12. Hits a nice step in jumper for a 20-13 lead. Great pass from Davis there against the 3-2 zone.

Quick corner shot with 30 seconds left after a Vandy score goes in. Illinois up 46-36. Nice job by Jordan, who is looking for his shot tonight and stepping in and shooting with confidence (as opposed to hesitation). Everything going in for Illinois tonight.

Richard Semrau: Fourth Illini off the bench, with 10:06 to go in the half. Cannot secure defensive rebound on first possession, with the ball remaining with Vanderbilt. Nice job moving his feet against Tchiengang leads to a missed bucket and Illinois ball at 9:09.

Offense: Lead 11-5 at the under-16 timeout. Come out scorching, shooting 5-for-8 from the field. Every Illini starter has scored except Davis. Nice balance, with each Illini getting a shot. Nice to see Illinois get Tisdale involved early. Great movement within the motion offense. A very promising start on both ends.

Lead 22-13 at the under-12. The Illini are shooting the lights out. A few turnovers have tripped up the Illini, which was a bit shaky against Vandy’s full-court pressure on a possession or two. Overall, though, the Illini are doing a good job against Vandy’s 2-3 zone, with Davis serving an invaluable role flashing the middle and hitting the short corners.

Lead 31-18 at the under-8. Illinois’ offense is running smoothly tonight, with 7 of the 9 Illini players who have entered the game with at least one field goal. Illinois has led from the get go and not looked back. Thus far, best overall game (given opponent) in this young season. Great energy as well. Illinois on a 13-5 run.

Illinois leads 35-22 at the under-4. The Illini are shooting a blazing 63%. Tisdale is 6-for-7 from the field. Illinois is handling whatever Vandy is throwing at them, passing the ball crisply through the zone and hitting the short corner with regular ease. Against the man, the Illini are getting good penetration, spacing and movement. A few hiccups here and there, but a very impressive effort thus far.

Shooting in the high 60s, the Illini are thriving in the mid-range game and off the bounce. If there’s one criticism of Weber teams, it’s that they can fall in love with the three too much. This effort is indicative of how deadly Illinois can be when working the  mid-range game. Illinois’ perimeter players are dominating this game.

Lead 46-36 at the half. The Illini are 21-for-34 from the field in the first half and unconscious, as Altenberger describes it. They truly are, with Tisdale, McCamey, Richardson, Keller and Jordan feeling it. What a half offensively, with only a few careless turnovers to complain about. The Illini click on all cylinders through 20. Illinois doesn’t even get to the free throw line and still leads by double digits.

Defense: Great start by the Illini, forcing 3 turnovers on first 5 Vandy possessions. Vanderbilt doesn’t score until the 16:42 mark, when reserve Steve Tchiengang hits a tough banker over Tisdale. You’ll live with that guy having to score for Vandy. Illinois with much better defensive intensity than they previously came out with against Boise State. Ogilvy hasn’t even gotten a touch on the block.

At under 12, lead by nine. Defense has dropped a bit as Vandy as settled down. McCamey had a few breakdowns, and Vanderbilt was able to get four open threes in that segment (hitting only one). For the most part, good job on the boards, limiting possessions to one shot.

Up 31-18 at the under-8. Vanderbilt has hit three threes, but missed about 7 or 8 treys. The Illini want it more, getting on the floor for loose balls and making all of the hustle plays. Illinois has limited Ogilvy and Beal to five points, all from Beal. Ogilvy does not get his first official interior touch until 7:16, leading into the under-8 timeout. If you were judging from this game, you’d have a hard time knowing that Ogilvy has been on the NBA’s radar in the last couple of seasons. The Illini have made him a non-factor, and Ogilvy helps out by missing his two free throws out of the under-8.

Still up 13 at the under-4. The Illini are holding Vanderbilt to 36% shooting. Ogilvy is starting to wake up, but the Illini have limited his touches. Just two shots for him.

First real breakdown of the half at 2:31, when Keller lets his man blow by him and then gives up an offensive rebound. The play eventually results in a Beal three and a 39-29 game. Illini defense has softened a bit as the Illinois allows dribble penetration and an eventual three for Beal  with 1:07 left. Illinois up 10 (44-34) at this point. Vanderbilt has now hit 5-of-12 threes; Illinois with 4 at this point.

Hot shooting overcomes a few lapses in final minute as Illinois still leads by double figures. Vanderbilt has picked it up from three, and Illinois has still given up 36 points in the half (which is a lot for a Bruce Weber team). With that said, the Illini have probably had their best defensive effort in a half thus far this season.

Now it will be unrealistic for Illinois to scorch the nets like they did in the first half, so the defense will need to crack down a bit. Expect Ogilvy to be the main focus of Vandy offense.

Illinois wins the board battle in first half, with 16 to 13 rebounds. Vanderbilt is at 45% shooting.

Second Half Commentary

Bruce Weber: Can’t be happy with first four minutes, with exception that Vandy has committed five fouls. The Illini are not patient on offense, and forcing too much, leading to several turnovers. Defensively, the Illini have broken down on a couple of possessions. Weber is surprisingly calm, as if he expected such a drop off after the great first half.

Inserts Cole and Keller after under 16 for better energy here. Pulls McCamey at 14:30, and grabs him on sideline. With clipboard in hand, Weber is showing McCamey something, a teaching moment for sure.

Good timeout at 7:48 as Illinois lead, just 16, is down to 10 (62-52). Illinois are a bit stagnant on offense at this point, and not as energetic on defense. Time to provide another reminder to this up-and-down team.

Inserts Cole out of under-8 for more energy.

With about two minutes left, Altenberger calls Weber Bruce Douglass. He actually did this as well in the Boise State game before quickly catching himself. Weber has to be happy tonight, as Illinois plays its most complete game.

Interestingly, Weber cuts his rotation to nine players this game, as Alex Legion and Tyler Griffey do not see the court. But with the bench (Keller, Jordan and Cole) all having good games, can’t blame Weber on this tonight.

A trend is emerging though, as Cole is becoming a player that Weber likes to use to bring some energy.

Demetri McCamey: Continues to get penetration with a nice crossover, change of pace that creates a foul on Ogilvy and gives Illinois its first two free throws of the game at 18:18. Goes one for two at the line, to give Illinois a 49-38 lead. Did not realize that McCamey had 6 of Illinois’ 16 turnovers against Boise State. Much better floor game tonight. Continues to struggle against Tinsley, who beats him baseline and hits Ogilvy for a layup and 49-40 game with 17:50 left. Richardson was also guilty of allowing dribble penetration on that possession. On next possession, has a terrible turnover, going baseline and trying to throw a cross-court pass that hits the baseline. Really forcing the action in first three minutes (this is not a good thing). Needs to play with better control. Overdribbles again on the baseline, leading to a tie up by Vanderbilt. Possession to Vandy. Rough start for McCamey to second half. Gets lucky leading into the under-16, as he goes flying for a Beal head fake. Thankfully, Beal misses the jumper.

Another turnover with 14:40 to go. Tries to force a pass from the top of the key into traffic underneath the basket. The pass does not make it to Keller and is picked off, resulting in a Vandy break. To McCamey’s credit, he gets back on defense and blocks a Jenkins layup. However, Vandy gets the rebound with Davis committing the foul. As a sophomore, McCamey had several fast break shots blocked from behind. That block there can be attributed to him getting slimmer last summer.

Hits a corner three with 10:44 to go to give Illinois a 60-44 lead, the biggest of the game. Really nice job moving without the ball and squaring his feet there. Looks like he takes a charge on the next defensive possession, but is called for a block. Tough break there, but it is nice to see McCamey slide into a good defensive position there.  He was under the basket there, which Larrivee says is a point of emphasis now in college basketball. Vandy hits two free throws to cut the game to 14. Has a bad turnover at 10:24 trying to force on the baseline following a pass from Davis. A blocking foul on Ogivly at 9:20 takes away a sure assist for McCamey, who fed Paul for a dunk. McCamey misses the front end of the one and one.

Nice assist on Cole back cut and dunk with 5:55 left to put Illinois up 66-55. Hits a big floater with 2:40 to go as he was matched up on Ogilvy and blazed by him for a 73-61 lead.

Hits two free throws to give Illinois a 75-64 with 1:53 to go. Hits two more free throws 30 seconds later with 1:23 to go. Illinois up 77-64 and then 77-66 on a quick Taylor layup.

Ties a season-high 23 points, which he accomplished in the BSU game. He had six turnovers that game and six tonight. Needs to cut down on these turnovers; some of them are just too careless. Still a work in progress at this point of the season but making strides at the point.

Brandon Paul: Bit lazy in terms of getting to pass from Davis that is stolen. Good explosion and activity on a missed Richardson jumper, getting a tip in for a 48-38 lead with 18:49 to go. It seems like Paul gets one tip in per game. Overaggressive and rushed dribble drive at 16:04 leads to missed banker. The Illini are playing a bit out of control out of the gates.

Great help defense at 10 minutes, stepping into the passing lane of a pass from Ogilvy, who was doubled on the plane. Paul deflects the pass and Illinois comes up with the loose ball. Freshman mistake at 8:07 as he over penetrates and throws up an errant shot with three Vandy players engulfing him. Seems like he over penetrates at least once a game in his young collegiate career.

Finishes with 7 points, 5 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 turnover. Had a nice floor game for the most part, looking more under control.

D.J. Richardson: Good penetration and pass to Paul under basket on first possession creates Vandy foul.

Luckily avoids an offensive foul out of the under-16 on a baseline drive where there was nowhere to go. Is short on the runner that falls in Vanderbilt’s arms. Makes layup off Vandy inbound breakdown with 15 minutes left, giving Illinois a 51-42 lead. Nice feed by McCamey there. Man, Vandy went stupid there. No communication at all. Puts Illinois up 10 with a tough three off a screen with 14 minutes left. Bailed out Cole on that possession, who passed up an open three. Richardson has a propensity to hit tough threes just when the Illini need it. That’s his first three of the game. Gets the crowd back in the game with a shot that Larrivee calls “a dagger.”

Fancy dribbling but is out of control when he makes an errant pass with no Illini around at 9:48. Vandy’s Taylor gets the steal and goes in for a dunk to cut the Illini lead to 60-48.

Nearly has the ball stripped from behind out of under-8 but is able to recover the ball. Richardson misses a one-and-one with 7:27 to go as Vandy is still in this game. Gets burned on the baseline on the next possession. Luckily, the Vandy player’s pass hits the rim and Cole is able to get on the floor and get the ball. Beautiful drive and scoop with five minutes left gives Illinois a 68-58 lead. Comes back on next possession and hits a huge three to put the game at 71-58. Just like the Boise State game (when he had a 7-0 run), Richardson has another personal run (5-0 this time) to force a Vandy timeout. 16 points for Richardson on 7-for-11 shooting. Pulls down strong rebound off missed Vandy three in which Jordan bought an up fake. Throws the ball away on the next Illinois possession.

Misses two free throws out of under-4. Is carving a reputation as a streaky scorer.

Finishes with 16 points in 36 minutes.

Mike Davis: Lazy pass on opening possession is stolen by Taylor and laid in the basket. Illinois up 46-38. Taylor with just four points. Davis is fouled by Taylor on the next possession. Vandy with two fouls already in first minute. Gives up a bucket to Walker at 17:19 as Vandy cuts the game to 7 (49-42). Strong defensive rebound as Illinois just misses causing a shot-clock violation with 16:13 to go. Grabs another big man’s rebound leading to the under-16 as Illinois leads 49-42. Was fouled over the back on the play.

Clears third defensive board with 15:10 left off a missed and wide open three from Tinsley. Gets lucky at 14:52 when he does not recover after showing on a screen and his man misses a wide open three.

Gets away with a violation at 9:38. While inbounding under the Illinois basket, he stepped over the line. Ref didn’t see it. Illinois will take the break. At 9:09, pulls down another defensive rebound off second straight Vandy miss from the free throw line. Fails to show on a screen with 8:30 to go, allowing Beal to get into the lane and hit Taylor for a layup and 62-50 game. Needed to help there as Richardson was screened off hard by a Vandy player.  Slacking a bit on defense as Walker hits a pull-up jumper at 7:50 to cut Illini lead to 62-52. Needs to be up on his man. May be tired there, waiting for under-8 timeout.

Illinois gets Davis a touch around 7 minutes. He misses a rare shot tonight, but Tisdale is fouled on the rebound attempt. Nice block of Beal at just under 5 minutes.

Davis finally gets on the snide in the second half with 1:07 left. Misses the free throw and a chance to complete the three-point play. Has four points and seven boards for the game, but has had a good defensive game against Taylor. Actually looks a little pale in the face. He may have been under the weather for this game if my memory serves me right. Anyways, Illinois leads 79-66 with 1:06 left. Grabs his eighth rebound with 50 seconds left.

Has 4 points and 8 rebounds, but doesn’t let quiet offensive night affect him defensively. Was really good in the first half within the zone, but wore out a bit in second half. The more I think about it, I believe he was sick this game, at least according to what I thought I heard.

Mike Tisdale: Nice job moving his feet on first defense of Ogilvy, who misses a wild runner in the lane.

Finally gets a post touch at roughly 13:33, but misses a turnaround hook. Good shot there and nice post feed from Bill Cole.

Misses a tough jumper at the top of the key out of the under-12 timeout. Illinois’ offense is getting a little too late in the possession. The miss keys a Vandy break, where Jenkins misses another three but Tisdale is called for a foul while boxing out a Commodore. He has three fouls now and is replaced by Keller, who immediately comes up with a defensive rebound.

Air balls an open jumper with a little less than 9 minutes to go. That shot may have been deflected. Does a good job getting back on defense as Vandy misses a transition three. Tisdale grabs the rebound and starts a fastbreak with an strong outlet pass to McCamey, who goes in for an easy layup. Illinois up 62-48.

Two free throws with 6:38 to go gives Illinois a 64-52 lead, which is cut to nine on next possession as Ogilvy kicks out of a double from Tisdale and Davis to find Jenkins for three. Jenkins finally connects from outside after starting out 0-for-6.

While having a quieter offensive performance in the second half, Tisdale set the tone in the first half. Finishes with 12 points and 5 rebounds, numbers that don’t do his impact on this game justice.

Dominique Keller: Enters with Cole at under-16. Is immediately called for a hold. Tchiengang got good inside position there.  Draws a questionable Tchiengang foul with 15:08 left. Following a Richardson three, takes a charge in front of Tchiengang. Great position defense there with 13:47 to go. Continues good energy on next possession as he gets in passing lane following a Tisdale miss and Vandy rebound, almost stealing the ball and knocking it out of bounds. Keller having a very nice energy game; this is what Weber wants from him. Finishes with 6 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal (along with 1 turnover).

Bill Cole: Enters with Keller after under-16. Passes up on an open three with 14:08 remaining. Had an open look off of nice penetration from Jordan, but needlessly pump faked the ball and wiped out an attempt. Didn’t look confident there to shoot the ball.

At 7 minutes, makes a nice hustle play, getting on the floor for a loose ball and getting tied up. Possession arrow to Illinois. Nice back cut and dunk with 5:55 to go, to put Illinois up 11 at 5:55. Two-hand flush there as Larrivee reads my mind, calling it the same thing after I type it. However, is a bit late on a closeout on ensuing defensive possession, as Jenkins cans his second straight three. Illinois is up 66-58 with 5:35 left. Vandy calls a timeout. Nearing 5 minutes, bails out Jordan, who is almost called for a backcourt violation.

Finishes with 2 points, 1 rebound and 1 steal in 14 minutes, but provided good energy.

Jeff Jordan: Enters at 14:30 for McCamey, with Illinois up 51-44 following two Vandy free throws. Hits a tough three with the shot clock running down at 12:17 to put Illinois back up 13 (57-44). Great job of stepping into that shot, which was set up by a nice upfake from Tisdale, who was just a bit out of his range. Jordan is shooting the ball with confidence tonight and early in the season. He has 7 points on 3-for-3 shooting. That’s a career high for Jordan.

Strong rebound with about 3:35 to go, but dribbles the ball away, leading to a Jenkins three and 71-61 game.

Finally misses a three with 20 seconds left and shot clock winding down. Great game for Jordan off the bench. Best of the season, and looked to score when the opportunity was there.

Offense: Up 49-42 at the under-16. The Illini are out of control in the first four minutes, with McCamey making bad decisions and pounding the ball to death. Poor ball movement in this four minute stretch, which is easily Illinois’ worst offensive performance of the game. No touches for Tisdale or Davis on the block. Too much perimeter touches. One positive is that Vandy has committed five fouls in the first four minutes, so Illinois may be headed to the line a lot this half.

Lead 57-44 at under-12. This game seems to be slipping away, but Richardson and Jordan hit two tough threes with the shot clock winding down to extend the game to double digits. Illinois will take it, though the offense hasn’t been as good in the second half.

Illinois on a 11-2 run to push the lead to 16 with 10:44 left. Up 62-52 with 7:48 left as Illini are looking a bit winded. Game was just 16 but several breakdowns has it down 10. Offense seems a bit herky jerky the last few possessions.

Up ten (73-63) at under-4. Richardson has hit some big shots to keep the Illini at a comfortable double digit margin. McCamey also with a big shot against Ogilvy. The Illini have been to the free throw line only eight times compared to 16 trips for Vandy, but still lead. Such is the life of a jump shooting team.

Anyways, Illinois finishes this up with an eleven-point victory (79-68). Altenberger hits it on the head: the Illini played well for 40 minutes. Great effort, especially on the defensive end in the first 12-15 minutes of the game and shooting the ball in the first half.

Defense: Lead is 49-42 at under 16. Vanderbilt is starting to catch a rhythm and Illinois seems a step slow in this four-minute spurt. Poor rotation by Paul on one play led to an Ogilvy layup and McCamey is struggling to contain the basketball. Illinois does nearly force a shot clock violation on one possession marked by good defensive movement and containment.

Lead by 13, 57-44 at the under-12. Vandy seems to be making a push in the game but can’t convert several open threes and one possession where they get two offensive rebounds. Jenkins hasn’t hit a bucket yet, and Ogilvy isn’t getting many touches. Vandy doing a bad job involving its center.

Vandy scored on 3 of its first 4 possessions in the second half, but has gone scoreless in 9 of its last 12, as of the 10:44 mark. Still, Vandy is able to cut a 16 game to 10 with 7:48 left. Vandy is hanging in there, largely in part to Illinois slacking a bit on defense and a drop in energy here.

Up 66-58 with 5:35 left. Vandy’s Jenkins has hit a couple of threes, but Illinois is doing just enough on offense to keep this game in the 9-10 margin.

Lead 73-63 at the under 4. Jenkins has caught fire with 11 points, but Vandy hasn’t gotten the game anywhere closer than eight. Ogilvy hasn’t had a field goal attempt since 18 minutes to go in the half. A failure on the behalf of Vandy, along with good defense by Illinois there.

Jenkins finally misses a three with 2 minutes left but Vandy gets the offensive rebound and is fouled. Ezeli misses the first and hits the second to reduce the Illinois lead to 73-64. Illinois gives up an inconsequential Taylor layup with about five seconds left, and the Illini win 79-68.

Overall: Illinois beats another ranked team for the second time in a week, making up for the losses in Vegas (at least for the time being). Great all-around effort from the Illini, much different than the Boise State game when the Illini gave up 17 layups and let a less-talented team dangerously hang in. Shut down Ogilvy and filled it up from the field in the first half. Weren’t as efficient in second half but kept the game at a comfortable margin (around 8 points) by making necessary stops and hitting big shots. An encouraging game for the Illini, against a quality opponent that would eventually be a four-seed in the NCAA Tournament. I agree with commentators, best performance of the young season, especially when considering opponent.

Illinois improves to 7-2, with two good wins and two bad losses. You could only hope at the time that the Illini would be in a position come Selection Sunday where these wins would shine brighter than the losses to Utah and Bradley. Of course, that would not be the case.

Play of the Game: With roughly five minutes left in the first half, Keller makes a nice pass from the free throw line to Tisdale, who slams the ball while Ogilvy gets there late. Tisdale’s dunk gives Illinois a 33-20 lead, and the Illini center shows some nastiness, woofing a little bit with Ogilvy, who got outplayed all night. On this dunk, the ball never hits the floor as the Illini do a masterful job of quickly moving the ball against Vanderbilt pressure. Tisdale helped set the tone during Illinois’ hot-shooting first half, as he went 6-for-8 from the field.

Positives

A lot tonight.

● Illinois’ energy from the get go, especially on the defensive end.

● The Illini jumping out to a 9-0 start.

● Tisdale playing with toughness on both ends against Ogivly, scoring 12 points in first half and doing a lot of little things defensively.

● Bench production (great games from Keller and Jordan).

● Overall shooting in the first half (the Illini were around 63% and at 59.3% for the game).

● Second half effort (wasn’t as efficient or pretty, but made enough plays on both ends to keep the game at a comfortable margin; much better concentration than in Boise State game).

● McCamey with an efficient 23 points on 8-for-10 shooting.

● Paul having a nice all-around floor game.

● Richardson hitting big shots at opportune times.

● Weber’s preparation and motivation this game (his team was ready and didn’t need to do much screaming).

● 32-27 rebounding margin.

● Controlled Olgivy and Taylor.

Some Negatives

Not much.

● Outshot at the free throw line.

● McCamey with six turnovers for second straight game.

● McCamey with similar defensive breakdowns, allowing dribble penetration and struggling to close out on the three.

● 14 Illini turnovers vs. 10 Vandy turnovers.

● Davis only got five shots (compared to 19 in last game; Illinois struggles to find consistent number shots for both Davis and Tisdale).

● Legion did not play (I was wondering at the time if there was any confidence in the kid; the seeds for his transfer were starting to be sewn).

Player of the Game: Mike Tisdale

McCamey has 23 points but 6 turnovers (identical to BSU game). Ultimately, Tisdale was a force in the first half, burning Vanderbilt for leaving him open in the zone. He played tough against the stronger Ogilvy and even stole the first entry pass of the game to the Vandy Aussie. Not as involved offensively in the second half, but had a real solid all-around game tonight. Needs to play with this toughness and focus all the time.

Well, that’s it for another Illini Tale of the Tape.

Up next: Western Michigan vs. Illinois (a game that I remember nothing about).

Until tomorrow.

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Tags: A.J. Ogilvy Alex Legion Andrew Walker Assembly Hall Bill Cole Brad Tinsley Brandon Paul Bruce Weber D.J. Richardson Demetri McCamey Deron Williams Dominique Keller Dwyane Wade Illini Basketball Illinois Basketball Jeff Jordan Jeffrey Jordan Jeffrey Taylor Jermaine Beal Kendall Gill Kevin Stallings Marquette Basketball Mike Davis Mike Tisdale Richard Semrau Tyler Griffey U-of-I Basketball University Of Illinois

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