Today’s Illini Tale of the Tape takes us to the day after the New Year when Gonzaga took on Illinois at the United Center.
The Bulldogs have already traveled 16,100 miles in the short season, and the Illini have accumulated four non-conference losses.
Can Illinois avoid a fifth?
Bill Raftery, Jereme Richmond and yours truly were in the house, and eager to see whether the Illini had some “onions, double order.”
Early on, they don’t, looking hung over from New Year’s Eve.
Where I Was for This Game:
At the United Center with the 19,000+ standing-room only crowd, sitting in the upper level with family. I hadn’t been to an Illini basketball game since I was still a student on campus (the 2004-2005 home finale against Purdue), though I did return to C-U for the Illini Legends game in September 2008. While I’ve followed the team extremely closely since leaving U-of-I, safe to say it was great to be back in person. With that said, I was also extremely nervous, knowing how good this win could look come March (following some bad non-conference losses) and how costly a loss could be.
What I Remember from this Game:
● Being worried about Gonzaga’s interior size, especially sophomore center Robert Sacre. I watched Gonzaga play at Michigan State early in the year and was impressed by Sacre and the Bulldogs as a team, which probably should have won that game.
● Illinois coming out as if it was still recovering from December 31st, falling behind by 20 only 8 minutes into the game.
● Mike Tisdale, coming off a career-high 31 points against Northwestern, barely staying on the floor due to foul trouble and some absolutely brutal decision making.
● Dominique Keller stepping up big time for the foul-saddled Tisdale and playing his best game as an Illini, hitting a gutsy three to send the game to overtime and being the spark off the bench that Bruce Weber was hoping for.
● Jeff Jordan also providing a huge spark off the bench.
● Illinois scratching and clawing its way back into the game (even taking an 8-point lead in the second half) but failing to close out.
● Sharing the frustrations of Weber, who would throw his clipboard to the ground after Illinois missed a difficult three at the end of overtime to conclude the loss.
● Being absolutely shocked that Weber did not a call a timeout on the game’s final possession.
● Feeling convinced that, at 9-5, the Illini were not going to make the 2010 NCAA Tournament. Not to be negative, I just had a bad feeling all year last season, starting with the Bradley game and when projecting how competitive the Big Ten was supposed to be.
● Also thought that Gonzaga freshman Elias Harris shuffled his feet on the game-winning basket. Upon video review, it looks like he didn’t, though it was close to the old-school Patrick Ewing/Georgetown Shuffle.
What Stood Out/Surprised Me Upon A Second Viewing:
● Forgot how brutal Illinois was from three (despite Keller’s late-game heroics), going 4 for 24. Gonzaga would go 6 for 17 from downtown.
● Forgot about Gonzaga’s early season travels, which included trips to Maui, Madison Square Garden, the Breslin Center, and now the UC.
● A rollercoaster ride in person, this game felt like two or three games packed into one, even when revisiting nearly 6 months later.
● Still can’t believe that Weber did not use his last timeout in the final minute of overtime, especially on the final shot of the game? On several occasions, he looked like he was getting ready to signal a timeout to the official but didn’t.
● Seeing Jereme Richmond sitting behind the Illini bench. I wasn’t surprised that he was there, just that I didn’t notice it after re-watching the game back in January. With 1:57 to go in overtime, with Gonzaga in a timeout, Richmond is sitting behind the Illinois bench, with a red headband on.
Alright, let’s do this thing.
#22 Gonzaga Bulldogs (10-3) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (9-4)
For reference’s sake, here is the Gonzaga starting lineup:
G Demetri Goodson (Sophomore), G Matt Bouldin (Senior), G Stephen Gray (Junior), F Elias Harris (Freshman), C Robert Sacre (Sophomore), Head Coach Mark Few (11th season: 274-69 entering this game).
Announcers: Don Criqui and Bill Raftery
Raftery notes Gonzaga’s work on the offensive boards, the play of the Illinois big men, and Bouldin needing to play well and do a lot of things as the keys to the game. Prior to this game, Weber told Raftery that this Illini team doesn’t guard anybody.
● Illinois as a Team
* First four minutes: Illinois is down 15-4 at the under-16, coming out cold (2-for-11 from the field) and asleep. Illinois is hardly running any offense, often shooting off of one pass, thus allowing Gonzaga to push the tempo. Tisdale picks up two quick fouls.
Gonzaga is 5-for-11 from the field, and 3-for-6 from the three. Actually, the Bulldogs haven’t looked all that great on offense; Illinois has been forcing quick shots, which has allowed GU to push the ball. Illinois transition defense has been brutal and lost, leading to open layups and threes. In the half court, Gonzaga has had a couple of ugly looks themselves, but the Bulldogs have to like the fast start, taking the crowd out of the game. Gonzaga is getting the ball into the post with great ease.
* Second four minutes: Illinois is down 30-11 at under-12. Gonzaga has scored on 10 out of 14 possessions and hit its last five shots. Illini turnovers are starting to rear their ugly head; Illinois with 4 turnovers, Gonzaga with none. Gonzaga is shooting well (11/18 from the field, 4/7 from three) and Illinois is frigid (4/14 from the field; 1/6 from three).
* Third four minutes: Down 33-16. Illinois has picked up the energy a bit, but is still not executing all that well. Keller and Jordan are starting to provide a spark. Gonzaga has missed its last four field goals. Shooting breakdown: from the field, GU 12/23 vs. Illinois 6/20; from the three, GU 4/10 vs. Illinois 1/8. 4 Illinois turnovers to none for GU.
* Fourth four minutes: Down 41-29. The Illini have picked up the energy and started to chip away, with Keller and Paul doing a good job in that stretch. Davis is starting to get going as well. Gonzaga has a 4 – 2 offensive rebound advantage; Davis and Tisdale with a combined 8 points and 3 boards, all from Davis; Bouldin has 4 points on 2/7 shooting. Paul with 7 points
* Fifth four minutes: The momentum is with the Illinois, which is down 43-35 and closed the half on a 24-11 run. Gonzaga is 50% from the field (16/32); Illinois in the 40s (14/34). Gonzaga is 4-for-10 from three, Illinois just 1-from-9. Each team has 6 turnovers. Gonzaga has a 20 to 12 advantage in points in the paint.
* Second half, first four minutes: Illinois leads 52-50, as the Illini are on a 17-7 run to start the half. Keller, Jordan, Paul, Davis and McCamey have all contributed in this spurt. The UC is rocking and rolling as Gonzaga has already taken two timeouts. Illinois is playing with incredible energy and urgency on defense. Illinois has 21 points off Gonzaga turnovers tonight, with Gonzaga already having 7 turnovers in the second half; Illinois with just one.
* Second four minutes: Illinois up 62-56 as Paul is creating excitement with his athleticism. There has been a 27-point swing in this game over the last 18 minutes. Illinois is shooting 12/20 (60%) this half. Gonzaga is 7/10 (70%) but with 8 turnovers compared to 1 for the Illini.
* Third four minutes: At under-8, Illinois up 68-62. The Illini are still up, but seeming a bit worn down after expending so much energy for the comeback. Illinois has burned two timeouts in this segment. Raftery makes a good point: Illinois needs to get Tisdale involved with some touches. The Illini have become a bit too jump-shooting reliant here. Gonzaga is shooting 55%; Illinois 48%. Gonzaga with 18 turnovers; Illinois with 10. Illinois with 31 points off GU turnovers; Gonzaga with 10 points off Illini turnovers.
* Fourth four minutes: Illinois is up 74-73 with Gonzaga charging back. The Illini have had some defensive breakdowns leading to Gonzaga baskets. Offensively, the Illini have rushed some things. Both teams have only one timeout.
* Fifth four minutes: Keller hits a huge three to send the game to overtime, with the score nodded at 79. Illinois survived there without a timeout, as Davis came up with a huge board. There have been 6 lead changes in this game, including 5 in the last 5:20. Can the Illini ride the emotion in overtime to a victory?
* Overtime: Illinois loses 85-83 in overtime. The Illini’s comeback goes for naught as Paul misses a desperation three at the buzzer. Weber has some questionable coaching late, hurting the Illini. Illinois struggles offensively, failing to get a field goal in the overtime. All four points come from the line. Not good execution from the players or coaches when it mattered.
● Bruce Weber
* Tells Raftery before the game that he is worried about his team’s defense, which has not been good early in the season.
* Takes a timeout at 16:11 as Illinois is 0-for-7 and down 10-0.
* Tisdale’s foul trouble forces Weber to go with Keller.
* Brings Bill Cole in for Paul out of the under-16; surprised that it’s Paul, and not Richardson, who is out after rough start, though both have been playing like freshman in first four minutes.
* Heard screaming at D.J. to basically wake up at 14:23 after Richardson fails to turn his head and pick up a pass that was deflected by Keller.
* Takes a gamble, bringing Tisdale back in at 13 minutes for Keller despite two fouls on the Illini starting center.
* Takes another timeout at 11:14 with Illinois down 30-11. Perhaps you save that timeout right before the under-12, but it was certainly justified given the Gonzaga run.
* Illinois has cut the game to 33-21 with 6:40 to go as Weber does a good job of having the Illini double and pressure in the front court.
* 4:19 Weber is furious at a foul call against Keller; Jerrance Howard does a good job of calming him down and preventing a technical.
* 3:05 Weber screaming at Paul to guard his man prior to the inbound; Raftery quips that Bruce will need a shower after this game. Of course, Paul gets beat by his man off the inbound for a Gonzaga score.
* Weber really hooting and hollering in first half to get his team to stay active; Raftery says that Bruce has been the sixth man out there.
* Weber starts Jeff Jordan ahead of Richardson in the second half.
* Nice play from Weber out of halftime, going to Tisdale on the block (got to get him involved); unfortunately, Tisdale misses the shot.
* 10:30 Good coaching by Weber after Gonzaga timeout (with Illinois on a run and up 66-58). Illinois comes out in full-court pressure.
* 9:19 Illinois has to take another timeout as the Illini can’t get the ball inbound. This will hurt the Illini at the end of the half. Weber doesn’t call this timeout; the inbounding McCamey does.
* 7:47 Illinois comes out in 2-3 zone. Raftery notes that “this is the eighth time in Weber’s career that he has gone zone.” Jimmy Dykes said the same thing when Illinois played some zone against Clemson. Definitely a surprise move out of the under-8.
* Illinois with only one timeout left and Weber will use it at 36 seconds with GU up 77-76, and the Illinois offense looking stagnant. Weber comes out with Jordan, Paul, McCamey, Keller and Davis, and Paul has a layup at the rim blocked. Not sure if that was the play that was designed, as Paul has had a tendency early in his freshman season to go outside the offense. Whatever the case, Paul had a good look; the Gonzaga defender simply made a great defensive play at the rim.
* After Gray free throws put Gonzaga up 79-76 with 29.5 seconds left, Weber brings Richardson in for Jordan. Illinois has no timeouts and will have to go. That timeout at 9:19 (failing to get the ball inbound) really hurts the Illini here. Davis and Keller save the day late, with a big rebound and three, respectively.
* Illinois starts overtime with Paul, Davis, Keller, McCamey and Richardson. Each team gets 1 timeout in overtime: Illinois now has 1, Gonzaga 2 (one carried over from second half).
* After a Gonzaga timeout, Weber comes out with Jordan for D.J. and a surprise 2-3 zone as the Illini look to protect an 83-80 lead. It doesn’t work as Bouldin hits an open three to tie the game.
* With game tied at 83, Weber looks like he is going to take a timeout on ensuing possession. He doesn’t and Davis misses a jumper at 1:11. The Illinois have been too reliant on the jump shot since about the eight-minute mark of the second half.
* With 12.6 seconds left, Gonzaga has taken an 85-83 layup on a Harris layup. Weber chooses not to use his last timeout, and Illinois gets a terrible shot off before the buzzer (Paul misses a contested three). Illinois loses as the horn expires and Weber throws his clipboard down to the ground. Illinois was frazzled on that possession, with McCamey looking uncertain. Again, Weber was indecisive on the sideline, getting ready to call a timeout but not getting it done. Ultimately, Illinois should have called a timeout there. Not good coaching, and another example of poor late-game execution. Conversely, Gonzaga’s winning basket comes off a Mark Few timeout.
Overall: Not Weber’s greatest moment at the end of the game, keeping his last timeout in his pocket as the Illini trailed and were going nowhere on offense. Did a good job of mixing and matching to get back into the game, and rode the hot hands of Keller and Jordan during a game in which Tisdale was nonexistent and Richardson mostly ineffective. Ultimately, the failure to call the timeout at the end is what Weber will be remembered for in this game.
● Demetri McCamey
* Illinois wins tip; McCamey misses curl jumper on first possession.
* 16:13 Sacre dunk as McCamey was on him down low; great feed from Bouldin; no resistance from Illinois; Gonzaga getting easy touches. (10-0 GU)
* 15:10 McCamey with a nice split with dribble and score. (13-4 GU)
* 14:09 McCamey weak pass to Keller is deflected out of bounds to Illinois.
* 13:18 Good hustle by McCamey, who knocks the ball away from Bol Kong and gets on the floor; unfortunately, GU recovers and Sacre hits a three at 13:10 for a 22-6 Illinois deficit.
* 12:20 McCamey passes an open three early in the possession and then hits a more difficult one; better movement by Illinois on that possession. (24-11 GU)
* 11:26 McCamey badly misses a forced three after a Bouldin made three; no one else touched the ball on that possession, which must have lasted a grand 5 seconds.
* 9:56 McCamey nice defensive rebound among the trees; nearly turns the ball over as he begins dribble and inexplicably jumps in the air before hitting Jordan.
* 9:28 McCamey allows dribble drive to Bouldin, who badly misses mid-range shot.
* 9:12 After missing on an open pull-up jumper, McCamey fouls a pushing Goodson on the other end; McCamey with two fouls.
* 6:20 McCamey nice attack to the rim; misses layup as it looked like he got fouled among the trees.
* 6:12 Good recovery on GU transition as the Illini have woken up, knocking a loose ball off the Bulldogs.
* 6:03 McCamey with a bad turnover as he throws an errant pass to Paul off a curl; the problem was Paul wasn’t looking; Needed to wait a second to make that pass.
*5:28 Poor job of getting back by McCamey as Goodson blows by and Davis picks up a foul; Goodson makes one of two. (36-23 GU)
* 4:31 McCamey allows baseline to Gray, who hits Olynyk in the lane. Jordan is a bit late on the help, and Olynyk makes the bucket while getting fouled. Misses the free throw but Sacre gets board before McCamey strips it from him. (40-27 GU)
* 4:22 After getting a steal against Sacre, McCamey is out of control on the push, losing his feet and turning the ball over, propelling a GU fast break and a Keller foul on the shooting Olynyk, who hits one of two free throws. (41-27 GU)
* 2:26 McCamey with good recognition of the shot clock and a tough in-your-face jumper off two bounces. (43-33 GU)
* 0:00 McCamey great defensive close out on a contested Gonzaga three at the buzzer; actually moved his feet and moved from the lane to the three-point line as if he was shot out of a cannon; where is that defensive energy all of the time?
* 19:32 Stop the presses. Demetri McCamey with a steal of Gray off of help line defense. McCamey then races down court for a layup plus the foul. He hits the free throw. Really good body control on the break there. (43-38 GU)
* 18:41 McCamey with a nice steal off a Gonzaga inbound and then a hit-ahead to Jordan for a jumper.
* 15:05 McCamey misses a three from the top of the key (at least Illinois did a good job of moving the ball against GU’s 2-3 zone).
* 14:06 McCamey slams the ball on the break after great hustle from Keller. A year ago, McCamey would have laid that ball in. This year, he easily dunks, a testament to him getting his body in shape between his sophomore and junior years. (56-52 ILL)
* 13:58 Swarming Illinois team defense forces a Goodson travel.
* 13:41 McCamey gets lost behind the GU zone and makes a nice dive to the basket, benefiting as Paul delivers a beautiful, no-look pass. Nice catch and use of the rim as a shield by McCamey, who makes the right-handed reverse layup with ease. (58-52 ILL)
* 12:03 McCamey with a quick pull-up miss on the break after a missed GU three. Questionable shot selection there, but Paul will save the day on this play with a monster tip slam.
* 10:34 Great job by McCamey of leaking out after a Davis steal (and Richardson strip of Bouldin). McCamey finishes with another slam as Illinois has its biggest lead of the game. (66-58 ILL)
* 8:27 McCamey buries a jumper off a screen. Great movement off the ball and use of the screen. Read the defender beautifully. The defender went over and McCamey curled into that smooth shot. McCamey quietly leads all scorers with 18 points. (68-60 ILL)
* 6:46 McCamey misses an open but quick jumper off the wing. Illinois is running McCamey off screens here. That was a difficult shot with McCamey fading to the side. Would like to see the Illini get the ball in the post.
* 5:57 McCamey with poor post defense on Bouldin, who pretty much went unimpeded to the middle for a bank shot. McCamey had his hands up but didn’t really slide his feet there. (68-66 ILL)
* 1:45 Terrible decision by McCamey, who jumps into the body of his defender and throws up an off-balance shot. Was trying to draw a foul, and the refs wisely did not bite. There was nothing there on that play; needed to pull out and run some offense and clock, especially with no one under the boards.
* 1:24 McCamey looks exhausted as he can’t get around an off-the-ball screen in which Gray will catch the ball and make a banker in the lane to give Gonzaga the lead. (75-74 GU)
* 14.6 McCamey forces a long three; bad shot selection.
* 1.3 Good job by McCamey of recovering and Davis of stepping up to alter Goodson’s shot after Keller’s game-tying three.
* 4:36 McCamey with a good head fake that frees open a mid-range shot that rattles out.
* 3:06 McCamey with a nasty behind-the-back dribble and drive, drawing a blocking foul on Goodson. Hits two free throws. (83-80 ILL)
* 2:46 Good double on Sacre leads to an errant pass that McCamey eventually tracks down.
Overall: Like the Illini as a team, had a bit of an up-and-down game, but played most of the way. Finishes with 20 points and 6 assists in 43 minutes. The good: only 2 turnovers. The bad: 1-for-7 from three. On last possession, he struggled to get Illinois a good shot. While McCamey was still learning as a point guard at this point of the season, the difference between him and someone like Gonzaga senior Bouldin (who settled his team down and made big shots late in the second half) was apparent. Still, McCamey was continuing to improve 14 games into the season, and is hardly the reason Illinois lost this game.
● Brandon Paul
* 17:06 Paul rushes and spins out a three (Illinois 0-for-6; Gonzaga 1-for-5); only one pass on that possession.
* 16:27 Paul misses a three (rushed another one – one pass and that’s it).
*9:12 Back in for McCamey (two fouls).
* 9:05 Paul fouls GU’s Kelly Olynyk, who slipped a screen; Richardson and Keller with no communication there as Keller came out on screen and Richardson was late to get to the screener; Olynyk hits one of two. (33-13 GU)
* 8:59 Paul terribly rushes and misses a three off one pass (yet again); looks like he was fouled after follow through but Illinois doesn’t get call; Illini do hustle for the long rebound.
* 6:52 Paul with a layup on the break, plus the foul; nice job of getting on the break after a Keller deflection, Paul filled the lane and D.J. made a nice pass, good body and ball control by Paul as he was fouled by a passing GU defender; Paul makes the free throw. (33-21 GU)
* 6:40 Paul steals ball from Sacre out of double team, and runs the break, hitting Richardson for a layup that is missed.
* 6:03 Paul with a bad job of not looking for the ball as McCamey zipped it by him after running off a curl screen; Paul and McCamey were both going too fast and not thinking.
* 5:16 Paul with an explosive first step and great penetration, leading to an acrobatic layup in the lane. Great finish among the trees. (36-25 GU)
* 4:08 Paul gets lucky as he forces a drive on the baseline and loses the ball; luckily Davis picks up the loose ball and scores.
* 2:58 Paul gets burned by Gray, who scores off a curl on an inbound play; just moments earlier, Weber was screaming at Paul to get on Gray before the inbound. (43-31 GU)
* 1:22 Paul gets lucky when he gets caught in the air and nearly turns the ball over on a pass to Davis, who tips the ball back to Paul; Paul then shows his baseline explosiveness, nearly dunking the ball on a GU defender (the ball got stuck between the rim and backboard); Paul drew the blocking foul and hits both free throws; it looked like Paul jumped off a pogo stick there. (43-35 GU)
* 33.4 Paul with a nice in-out dribble to get an open shot that is missed; controlled aggressiveness there; good to see even if the shot didn’t go in.
* 17:58 Paul buries a rainbow three at the top of the key as GU goes zone. Shot may have been a bit early in the shot clock, but it certainly looked good going in. Great step in and square up by Paul there as the game is tied up. (45-45 Tie)
* 16:46 Paul gets posted up by Bouldin, who uses his upper-body strength to bank in a shot. (50-45 GU)
* 16:30 Paul follows up with a quick three on the other end off a Keller screen. Not sure if that was the shot Illinois wanted, but it certainly looked good splashing through the net. (50-48 GU)
* 15:55 Great activity by Paul, who fronted and stole a lob entry pass intended for Bouldin
* 15:26 Paul with poor dribble containment of Bouldin, who got into the lane and hit a hanging bank shot. (52-52 TIE)
* 13:41 Paul with a great job of dribbling into the seam of the zone and then hitting McCamey (who got behind the zone) with a no-look pass for an easy score. (58-52 ILL)
* 12:09 Paul catches a break when he helps on a driving Gray but does not get to his man Bol Kong, who misses an open three that is engulfed by Keller on the boards.
* 12:03 Great attack of the offensive boards by Paul as he follows up a McCamey missed three with a monster two-hand slam. What athleticism. Illinois hasn’t had a player show such ability since the Flying Illini days. Great pursuit by Paul as the UC is going crazy. Illinois keeps the ball after the bucket as there was an off-the-ball foul during the dunk. (60-56 ILL)
* 11:43 Paul gets called for a questionable foul on Harris, leading to the under 12. Harris swatted away Paul like a fly as they battled in the post – looked like an offensive there.
* 9:04 Paul misses a three on the wing. He was falling away there after coming off a screen. Needed to get set and square up. A rushed shot. Illinois with some bad shot selection as of late.
* 3:25 Gonzaga retakes the lead as Bouldin makes a driving layup. Brandon Paul got caught under a screen and no one helped out there. (73-72 GU)
* 2:40 Paul air balls a long fading-away jumper as the shot clock is under 10. Jordan gets the offensive board and fires to Paul who draws iron on a long three as the horn sounded.
* 2:25 Paul lets Bouldin blow by him into the lane but recovers, showing good hands as he deflects a pass to Jordan.
* 29.5 Paul with an aggressive drive, getting to the hoop but blocked on a layup as Illinois trails 77-76. Gonzaga secures the ball and Illinois does not commit a foul until 22.1 seconds left when Jordan fouls Gray.
* 3:47 (in overtime) Paul with good attack of the board after Davis miss as he gets good inside position on Gray, who fouls out with a push foul. Paul rattles home the first free throw. Not pretty, but it still counts. Paul hits the second. (81-80 ILL)
* 3:20 Paul with great defense on Bouldin as he quickly recovered on the drive and swiped the ball from the Gonzaga guard.
* 1:36 Bouldin hits a three as Illinois is surprisingly in a 2-3 zone (83-83 TIE).
* 0:00 Illinois looks frazzled and not sure what to do while down two late in overtime. Weber looks like he wants to call a timeout but doesn’t. Paul hits back iron on a long three at the buzzer. Tough look there, but someone had to get a shot up. Weber throws his clipboard to the ground. (ILLINOIS LOSES 85-83)
Overall: Finished with 17 points, 3 steals and 3 assists in 37 minutes. Amazingly, had no turnovers. Had a rough start to the game, but began sparking the Illini in the first half. Provided a huge lift in the second half and then went quiet for a bit. A bit infatuated with the three-point line (2-for-9 for the game); would like to see him attack more. With that said, had a good energy game, despite some of the mistakes that he makes as a freshman. This game truly showed how much potential Paul has. Now if he can clean up the mental breakdowns…
● D.J. Richardson
* Richardson good hustle to loose ball but turnover at 19:06 on break; got caught in the air .
* D.J. near five seconds and then a near turnover at 18:12.
* 15:44 D.J. hits a forced banker (10-2 GU); wasn’t pretty offense or shot, but it went in.
* 15:35 D.J. fails to close out as Gray hits a three off the push. (13-2 GU)
* 15:18 Gray misses open three (GU establishing fast tempo).
* 14:57 Gray driving layup (15-4 GU); D.J. and Paul were confused and guarding the same guy as Gray was unguarded there; that was on D.J., who inexplicably went to Paul’s man.
* 13:43 D.J. badly misses a forced shot (no ball movement at all) barely grazed rim there; that was a panic shot with a lot of time left on the shot clock; gets bailed out on a foul call, hits two free throws (19-6 GU); Raftery notes how the UC is like a library.
* 9:12 In for Cole.
* 7:56 Richardson air balls a three and Davis can’t save as he knocks ball out of bounds; wide open, just missed everything there despite a good step in and catch.
* 6:40 Richardson unable to make layup off Paul steal, tough pass, and a difficult catch there, but still should have finished.
* 6:29 Bouldin scores on an alley loop layup from Goodson as Gonzaga pushes the ball after the missed Richardson layup. (35-21 GU)
* 2:00 Richardson in for McCamey.
* Benched at start of second half for Jordan. Only had two points (from the free throw line) in first 20 minutes.
* 12:03 Richardson comes into the game for the first time in the second half, replacing Jordan.
* 12:00 Richardson immediately comes in and does a nice job of using the bounce to get from the perimeter into the lane for a one-hand floater that is good. (62-56 ILL)
* 11:35 Olynyk scores on a nice step-through as Richardson and Davis got hung up on a fake ball handoff. Richardson did a nice job of recovering, but over-pursued just a bit, allowing Olynyk to make the nice move. (62-58 ILL)
* 10:38 Great hands by Richardson, who strips the ball from Bouldin and triggers a McCamey dunk.
* 10:06 Richardson misses a quick three on a curl – was open, though the shot was early in the possession. I like that shot though as it had a chance to continue to break down Gonzaga, which is clinging right now to stay in this game. Great activity after the shot, getting on the floor and drawing a foul.
* 7:47 Richardson with an out-of-control, forced and rushed drive against the zone, leading to a charge and the under 8.
* 29.5 Richardson in for Jordan after Gray free throws and Illinois down 79-76.
* 7.7 Nice assist to Keller on game-tying three.
* Does not get shot off at end of regulation after Davis came up with altered Goodson shot. It looked like Richardson could have gotten a shot off at half court but couldn’t secure the pass and shoot. Rather he stabbed at the ball, causing it to hit the ground and the clock to run out. Not good clock awareness there by Richardson while everything was going to hell. It would have been nice to fling a shot up there.
* Assistants Jay Price and Wayne McClain not happy there with Richardson, with Wayne McClain getting on him after the play. Richardson didn’t get a shot up but dribbled and tried to dunk the ball well after the horn had expired.
* 3:50 Richardson misses three.
Overall: May have been Richardson’s worst game of the season (certainly was at this point of the year). Only got 15 minutes (usually logs much more than Paul) and finished with 6 points. Usually the steadier of the two freshman starters, Richardson really struggled today with his decision-making. He just seemed as if he wasn’t there mentally in this game. Failing to get a shot off at the end of regulation is a great example of this point. May have looked like a freshman in this game, but didn’t for most of the season (note: Richardson was just named the male newcomer of the year at Illinois).
● Mike Davis
* Davis badly misses perimeter jumper at 18:36 (too quick of a shot).
* 18:11 Davis had easy layup off inbound stripped; needs to go up stronger (nice find McCamey). Off this miss, Stephen Gray hits a three at the top of the key to give Gonzaga a 5-0 lead. Illinois struggling to get back and to get on the glass (Davis included).
* 16:57 Elias Harris cans another three top of key as Davis provides a poor closeout (8-0 GU); quick shot on Illinois end allows Gonzaga to push the ball for this make.
* 16:42 Davis misses a half hook to baseline; once again, one pass and shoot.
* 14:47 Davis miss one hand runner that Keller knocks out of bounds to take to under-16.
* 13:56 Elias Harris with a rebound and put back as Davis and McCamey failed to block out. (19-4 GU)
* 11:52 Davis with a soft post feed from top of key to Tisdale; the ball gets stripped as several GU players swarmed; not a good idea since pass wasn’t there to begin with, and then a terribly executed pass to top off mistake.
* 9:12 Back in for Griffey.
* 4:45 Davis gets first two points of game off a nice rebound and stick back of a missed Jordan jumper. (38-27 GU)
* 4:08 Davis with a good job of picking up a loose ball off a forced Paul drive and sticking in a one-hand push shot. (41-29 GU)
* 3:58 Davis allows easy post up for Sacre in the lane, but plays straight up, forcing a three second at the under-4.
* 3:26 Davis splashes a jumper in the middle of the zone; a good flash there as GU went zone for the first time, throwing an amoeba 2-3/3-2 look; good patience by Illinois in terms of ball movement. (41-31 GU)
* 2:36 Davis fails to draw iron on contested shot in the middle of the zone.
* 2:00 Davis misses an acrobatic one-hand flip but is fouled on the play; good job of Illinois getting the ball inside; Davis misses both free throws.
* 1:32 After pushing Sacre off the block moments earlier, Davis give up easy post position; luckily, Sacre misses a spinning shot in the lane.
* 55.9 Good activity on offensive glass by Davis after a missed three by Keller ultimately keeps the ball with Illinois.
* 18:50 Mike Davis with a nice post up, seal and score on a layup off a good post entry from Jordan. (45-40 GU)
* 16:58 Davis misses a wide-open baseline jumper off a nice penetration and pass by Jordan.
* 16:21 Davis picks up a blocking foul on Sacre, who hooked him. Tough break, though Davis was slow to move his feet.
* 16:05 Davis nearly steals the ball as the UC is going crazy with Illinois back in the game after a Keller dunk. Good deflection as GU tried to push.
* 15:44 Great dive on the pick and roll game by Davis, who makes a reverse layup to give Illinois its first lead of the game. (52-50 ILL)
* 12:50 Davis misses a baseline jumper that barely grazes rim. A bit of a force as the Illini offense got a big stagnant. Davis tried to make that play off the bounce. He has struggled getting into his shot off the bounce early in the season.
* 11:19 Davis with a bad entry pass to posting Keller, who can’t save the ball and steps out of bounds. Gonzaga turns it right over as Olynyk makes a terrible lob pass that sails out of bounds.
* 10:38 Great look ahead by Davis after Richardson knocks the ball away from Bouldin. Davis hits McCamey for his second dunk in the half.
* 6:38 Davis with a defensive rebound on a missed Gray three. Illinois catches a break as no one picks up Gray in the secondary transition. Gray had an open look from the top of the key and was hitting that shot in the first half.
* 5:09 Davis with a big defensive board as Illinois dodges another bullet. Bouldin missed a wide-open three at the top of the key as the Illini were slow to recover.
* 4:51 Davis with a soft touch as he hits a baseline push shot. Good job of Illinois going inside and Davis getting position. Keller with a nice entry pass from the top of the key. (72-66 ILL)
* 4:09 Bouldin finally makes Illinois pay as he is left open and drills a wing three. Illinois had doubled Sacre on the play, and no one got back on Bouldin, who had all day to measure that one up. Paul started on Bouldin there, but switched. Davis and Keller doubled Sacre, and Davis failed to adjust and get out on Bouldin. (72-71 ILL)
* 3:42 Davis with a tough shot, missing a floater to the middle of the lane. Was a little too far out there for that move as Illinois is taking some questionable shots.
* 3:09 Goodson misses one and one, as Davis rips the board down. Great box out.
* 45.8 Harris scores on Davis with two long steps into the lane and a soft lay in. That was close to a travel as it looked like Harris may have shuffled his feet at first. (77-76 GU)
* 11.5 Davis with a great rebound off missed McCamey three (Illinois down 79-76) and kick to Richardson, who finds Keller at the top of the key. Game-saving play there.
* 1.3 Good job by McCamey of recovering and Davis of stepping up to alter Goodson’s shot after Keller game-tying three. Good clock awareness and hit ahead to Richardson.
* 3:49 Mike Davis with big offensive rebound of Richardson missed three, but rushes a put-back attempt. Would have liked to see him come down and then go straight up rather than rushing the attempt while fading away.
* 1:11 Mike Davis misses an open baseline jumper off screen as the game remains tied at 83. Weber looked like he wanted to call a timeout there but opted not to.
Overall: This game is a telltale sign of how Davis can be so productive yet so frustrating. At the start of this game, Davis had little energy or focus, and his decision-making was not good at all. He then picked it up late in the first half as Illinois began making its comeback. The rest of the way, he was up and down. Finishes with 12 points and 10 rebounds in 43 minutes. Give him credit for staying on the court for so long (only 2 fouls but an inefficient 6-for-16), especially with Tisdale not showing up at all. Davis showed how good he can be when he grabbed an offensive rebound at the end of regulation that led to the Keller game-tying three and then got back on defense to alter the shot. While those plays were phenomenal, Davis was way too inconsistent in this game.
● Mike Tisdale
* Sacre size is giving Tisdale trouble early as he can’t get shot off on first Illini possession and gets outworked for a Gonzaga offensive rebound on first Bulldogs’ possession.
* Elias Harris on push gets Tisdale’s first foul at 19:03; didn’t move his feet; Harris hits both free throws to give GU a 2-0 lead.
* Tisdale gets a foul on Sacre at 18:35; replaced by Keller as Tisdale has two quick fouls.
* 13:43 Tisdale back in for Keller.
* 12:51 Tisdale nice baby hook in the lane; good patience, taking a dribble into Sacre and bouncing off for the score; good find from Davis. (22-8 GU)
* 12:40 Immediately gets posted by Sacre on the other end and gets beaten on post move; McCamey with the foul on the help; Sacre hits two free throws. (24-8 GU)
* 11:35 Matt Bouldin hits jumper at top of key; poor show by Tisdale as Jordan got caught under screen. (28-11 GU)
* 10:11 Tisdale hits a nice fade-away jumper on the baseline (32-13 GU); good patience there as Jordan missed entry pass earlier, and a nice job by Tisdale of taking a dribble to the baseline and reverse pivoting to get the shot up; gives up offensive rebound on next possession but Gonzaga can’t hit three.
* 9:42 Tisdale misses half hook in the lane, really rushed it there. Plays a few minutes before sitting the rest of the half.
* 19:38 Tisdale misses an in-close layup. Went up too soft. Got too finish.
* 19:05 Good recovery by Tisdale off a screen and roll against Sacre, who eventually hits a very difficult shot in the lane. Tough luck. (45-38 GU)
* 18:42 Gets pinned under the basket by Sacre and simply wraps him up. That’s his third foul. Got to play smart and not pick up his fourth.
* 18:21 Tisdale picks up a charge against Sacre. Almost committed his fourth there (actually got away with holding Sacre, but a good recovery with his feet).
* 17:39 Tisdale is slow to recover on Sacre following a ball screen on Bouldin, who finds the GU big man for a dunk. Mike Davis with poor help as well. (47-45 GU)
* 17:23 Tisdale with two brutal mental mistakes. Catches the ball at the top of the key with his back to the basket and does not turn around, just standing there as Bouldin picks his pocket. On the break, Bouldin hits Harris, whom Tisdale fouls on the play. That’s Tisdale’s fourth. Should have let Harris get the layup. Compounds one mistake with another. Will now sit for most of the half. 17:23 Harris hits one of two free throws as Keller replaces Tisdale (48-45 GU).
* 9:19 Tisdale is back in for Keller.
* 8:46 Good baseline help by Tisdale off a curl move by Gray, who dribbles the ball out of bounds.
* 8:10 Tisdale with good use of hands and discipline in not committing his fifth as Sacre hits a tough hook in the lane. The post-pass was too easy, but Tisdale was recovering back to Sacre after helping to contain the dribble. Sacre quietly leads Gonzaga with 17 points at this point. (68-62 ILL)
* 7:18 Tisdale with a stupid foul on Sacre off the ball. I hate to use that word, but it was not smart at all. Sacre and Tisdale got tangled up as the ball moved from side to side. Once they got disengaged, Tisdale threw his arm right over Sacre. Needless move there and a terrible sell job. Tisdale fouls out, a victim of foul trouble and some mental blocks. A “nickel dimer,” Raftery says.
* Officially out of the game at 7:18.
Overall: Played just 11 minutes as he was saddled with foul trouble. Fouled out with just more than 7 minutes left in the second half. Coming off his best performance as an Illini (31 against Northwestern), Tisdale certainly had one of his worst against Gonzaga, showing up with little energy, looking out of the game mentally, and not playing smart at all with foul trouble. Tisdale’s inconsistency from one game to the next showed up yet again. Had just 5 points. Disappointing performance just when it looked like he turned the corner.
● Dominique Keller
* First Illini off the bench, replacing foul-riddled Tisdale at 18:35.
* 17:36 Keller miss three at top of key on aggressive drive by Paul; open but quick shot, Illinois is all perimeter-oriented.
* 15:27 good run out by Keller and find by McCamey, but Keller can’t finish a chippie against Gonzaga’s 7’3’’ senior center Will Foster.
* 14:23 Keller with a good deflection of post entry but D.J. does not see; Weber heard screaming “Come on D.J.” indicating to keep his eye on not only his man but also the ball.
* 14:04 Keller lazy pass is stolen by Bouldin, who pushes and misses a tough banker.
* 9:12 Back in for Tisdale.
* 8:46 Keller with a nice pump fake, dribble to the baseline and one-handed shot that goes in plus the foul; good penetration from Jordan there; hits free throw to make it 33-16 as United Center shows some excitement.
*8:23 Keller with a nice closeout on Gray three and Jordan with a great box out against Olynyk, who commits over the back foul; UC crowd starting to get loud as Illinois is a little more active.
* 7:20 Keller nice push shot over Sacre on the baseline; nice patience there as he caught the ball and didn’t rush, making a dribble, getting into the body and then creating space for the shot. (33-18 GU)
* 6:54 Keller with nice ball denial as Sacre had him posted under the basket; deflects the ball to Richardson who hits Paul for a layup and foul.
* 5:32 Keller hits an open mid-range jumper from McCamey, who came off a screen near the free throw line and made a great look. (35-23 GU)
* 5:03 Keller allows easy post-up by Elias Harris, who receives a pass and scores with no problem. (38-25 GU)
* 3:05 Good Illinois team defense following dribble penetration as the Illini swarm the ball and then get on the ground to cause a tie up; nice energy there from Keller; ball stays with GU.
* 2:33 Keller with great hustle, getting on the floor again after a missed Davis jumper and knocking the ball off GU.
* 2:10 Keller with a strong defensive rebound off a Keller miss; good activity against the bigger GU opponent; Raftery notes Keller’s activity.
* 1:32 Keller with another aggressive rebound; playing like a junkyard dog.
* 55.9 Keller misses an open three at the top of the key; he hesitated there.
*17:23 Back in for Tisdale, who now has four fouls.
* 16:14 Great job by Keller of deflecting a ball in the passing lane and getting on the break for a dunk to tie the game. (50-50 TIE)
* 14:43 Keller with great defense as Davis got caught on Bouldin. Following a screen on Davis, Keller aggressively jumps out at Bouldin, who badly misses a long jumper.
* 14:30 Keller is all over the place, tipping a missed Paul three point shot. While Keller doesn’t hit the tip, he gets the board and flips in a bank shot plus the foul. Keller is going crazy on the floor. He misses the free throw out of the under-16 (54-52 ILL).
* 14:06 Keller makes up for missed free throw by knocking away a Gonzaga pass, saving the ball from going out of bounds and firing the ball down court to McCamey for a one-hand slam. (56-52 ILL)
* 13:27 Keller deflects a Sacre pass, and Jordan gets on the floor, getting tied up on the play. The ball stays with Gonzaga, but Illinois is changing this game with its best defensive effort in recent memory.
* 13:16 Bouldin nearly travels but hits Harris, who makes a beautiful step-through against Keller for a layup. Good activity from Dominique, but simply a case of the offense being better than the defense there. (58-54 ILL)
* 12:36 Keller is too straight up as Harris makes a sick (and quick) dribble move to the middle for a nasty two-hand slam. Keller wasn’t expecting that, nor was the Illinois crowd. That move was filthy. (58-56 ILL)
* 10:53 Keller with a nice post up and bank shot over Olynyk. Good job of Illinois, specifically McCamey, immediately feeding the hot hand. (64-58 ILL)
* 9:48 Keller misses an open three at top of key. Good look within context of offense. Can’t complain there.
* 9:39 Keller plays too high on Sacre, who gets an easy post pass and dunk. Denial wasn’t quick enough from Keller (66-60 ILL).
* 9:19 Keller forces a quick turnaround on the baseline but gets on the floor for the offensive board before calling a timeout. A good timeout for Weber to settle the Illini down a bit. Illinois has spent so much energy getting back into this game and taking the lead that they are a bit tired physically, which could mean that smart decisions go by the wayside.
* 7:18 Keller in for Tisdale, who has been disqualified with fouls.
* 7:05 Bad job by Keller on ball screen of Jordan as Gray hits jumper. Jordan got screened off by Sacre and chose to stay with the big man. Keller showed and then dropped to Sacre, who canned the open jumper. Also, Jordan with a bad job of not communicating the switch. (68-64 ILL)
* 6:13 Keller with a nice slip of a screen on Paul, but can’t finish a bank shot. The pass was a bit too hot to handle.
* 5:23 Illinois looks a bit tired, but Keller breaks a 6-0 Gonzaga run with a mid-range jumper. Nice find by Jordan on the baseline. (70-66 ILL)
* 4:43 Sacre gets great post position on Keller, all the way under the basket. Keller commits a foul. Keller looks gassed right now. Sacre hits two free throws. (72-68 ILL)
* 4:29 Bad shot by Keller as GU throws a three-quarter court 1-2-2 at Illinois. Keller was open on the baseline but rushed it there. More patience would have been better. Keller looked like he had no legs on that shot and rushed his delivery.
* 3:16 Keller with a good head fake and bank shot on the baseline to put Illinois back up. Nice find by McCamey. (74-73 ILL)
* 1:51 Keller with good defense on baseline, getting matched up with Bouldin and altering his shot. The loose ball goes to McCamey.
* 1:10 Keller hits a huge jumper at the top of the key to give Illinois the lead. Was quick in the possession, but he was open and shot with confidence. (76-75 ILL)
* 7.4 Keller buries the open three to tie the game and send it to overtime. (79-79 TIE)
* Does a great job of not celebrating but getting back on defense to help prevent Gonzaga get a game-winning look.
* 4:12 Keller gets called for a questionable over-the-back foul as Harris went up for a rebound of a Sacre miss. Didn’t look like there was contact there. Bit of an anticipatory call. Keller got all ball. Harris makes one of two free throws. (80-79 GU)
* 2:00 Keller misses an open three but nearly comes down with the hustle rebound. Keller hits the floor again, as does Davis before Gonzaga secures. Good effort, just came up short there.
* 12.6 Harris scores on Keller with two long steps into the lane. Sitting in the nosebleeds at the UC, I thought Harris might have traveled. It was close but he didn’t. (85-83 GU)
Overall: Finishes with a career-high 22 points in 34 minutes. Also had 9 rebounds, 3 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks. Tons of deflections as well (would have loved to see his Matto numbers after this game).. Simply put, a spectacular performance, Keller’s best ever in an Illinois uniform. Struggled out of the gate but was the catalyst midway through the first half as Illinois got back into the game. Played with a defensive urgency that created his and other’s offense. Got into the passing lanes. Played like a man possessed, providing a spark off the bench (especially defensively) that Weber envisioned. Hit clutch shot after clutch shot late in the game, including the stone cold three to put the game into overtime. Certainly picked the right time to have such a monster game, with Tisdale giving Illinois next to nothing. Keller may not have been happy with the way his career finished at Illinois, but he can always look back at this game fondly. Illinois fans should too when thinking of Keller, who didn’t have the senior season that was envisioned and had a bad attitude at times, but was generally a great representative and ambassador for the program.
● Bill Cole
* In for Paul out of under-16.
* 14:17 Gray hits a tough fade away jumper in the lane against Cole. (17-4 GU)
* 13:35 Cole good activity, knocking ball out of bounds after getting in passing lane.
* 12:08 Gray is tearing up Illini, Cole loses him on back cut and Tisdale is slow to recover on Gray layup. (26-11 GU)
* 9:46 Cole passes up open three.
* 9:25 Cole with a nice box out and strong defensive board following Bouldin miss.
* 11:43 Bill Cole enters for first time in second half, replacing Paul.
* 10:16 Nice helpline defense from Cole, who picks up a charge on the driving Olynyk.
* 10:02 Great effort on the offensive glass following a long Richardson miss from three. Cole nearly comes down with the board before falling down hard on his head. The ball bounces around and Richardson gets on the floor to grab it before being fouled.
Overall: 1 rebound and 2 assists in 8 minutes. Didn’t have the energy game that he had against Northwestern, though the opportunity was certainly there in this game with Richardson struggling. Ultimately, his hesitancy to shoot the ball was a main reason he didn’t play much in this game, as the Illini needed to mount a comeback with guys willing to shoot. On this day, that was Jeff Jordan, not Cole.
● Jeff Jordan
* In for Richardson at 13:43.
* 11:14 Terrible weak side defense by Jordan as Sacre hits Kelly Olynyk out of a Davis-Tisdale double team for a layup. (30-11 GU)
* 10:58 Jordan throws the ball away on an open McCamey baseline back cut; bad pass.
* 8:46 Keller with a nice pump fake, dribble to the baseline and one-handed shot that goes in plus the foul; good penetration from Jordan there; hits free throw to make it 33-16 as United Center shows some excitement.
* 8:23 Keller with a nice closeout on Gray three and Jordan with a great box out against Olynyk, who commits over the back foul; UC crowd starting to get loud as Illinois are a little more active.
* 7:44 Jeff Jordan gets posted by Bouldin but does a nice job of playing over the top and knocking the entry pass to the Illini (Gonzaga’s first turnover).
* 7:37 McCamey back in for Jordan, who gets a deserved hand after playing with great energy in the last couple of minutes.
* 5:28 Comes back in for Richardson.
* 2:16 Jordan allows too much dribble penetration to Goodson, who misses a running banker that is rebounded by Keller.
*1:13 As the orange-clad UC crowd is up and loud, Jordan deflects a Gonzaga pass off a GU player, out of bounds to the Illini; Illinois catches a break there as the ball did not hit a GU defender; good activity anyways by Jordan.
* Starts the second half for Richardson.
*18:36 Nice job of Jordan filling the lane in the transition, stepping into a shot and drilling it. Good spark from Jordan early in the second half. (45-42 GU)
* 15:44 Great find by Jordan on a screen and roll, hitting Davis underneath the basket for a reverse layup and Illinois’ first lead of the afternoon.
* 14:43 Jordan skies for a rebound off a Bouldin miss.
* 13:27 Keller deflects a Sacre pass, and Jordan gets on the floor, getting tied up on the play. The ball stays with Gonzaga, but Illinois is changing this game with its best defensive effort in a long time. The Illini have made Gonzaga uncomfortable, and are forcing turnovers left and right.
* 12:18 Jordan misses a jumper at the top of the key. Maybe a bit early in the shot clock there, but I like the fact that Jordan, who’s been feeling it, stepped in with confidence there.
* 7:18 Jordan in for Richardson.
* 4:29 Good hustle by Jordan off Keller miss, nearly saving the ball but going out of bounds.
* 3:09 Jordan with a blocking foul on Goodson, who beat him into the lane. Goodson will have a one-and-one out of the under-4 timeout.
* 2:40 Good hustle to offensive board and kick out to Paul with shot clock running down. Paul misses the desperation shot.
* 2:19 (in regulation) Jordan misses a tough layup off the Paul deflection. Good defense by Gonzaga made Jordan switch the ball to his other hand. 1-on-2 there; would have like to see Jordan pull the ball out there and run some offense as that was a high degree of difficulty shot.
* 43.6 (in overtime) Harris misses a baseline jumper and Jordan is tied up on the rebound. It looked like Jordan got clipped there on the rebound, but probably a good no foul. I’d rather have the refs let the players play rather than calling cheap fouls late (see last night’s Game Seven of the NBA Finals). Possession arrow to Gonzaga. (83-83 TIE)
Overall: Jordan with a great energy game, scoring just two points but dishing out a career-high 7 assists in 32 minutes. Along with Keller, sparked Illinois back into this game in the first half and early in the second half. Really played hard and was extremely effective.
● Tyler Griffey
* 11:14 Comes in for first time in game.
* 11:05 Tyler Griffey passes on open shot.
* 10:39 Sacre hits turnaround Griffey; easy post feed and no resistance from Griffey, who got pinned on Sacre’s back; Raftery says “You just can’t permit that entry” (32-11 GU).
Overall: just two minutes in this game. Not a regular part of the rotation yet; rather, someone to steal minutes before television timeouts early in the season.
Overall: Illinois loses in agonizing fashion in overtime, 85-83. Poor focus and energy puts the Illini in a big hole early while an amazing comeback gets Illinois the lead in the second half. The gritty Bulldogs hang tough, and this game goes down to the wire, with Keller hitting a memorable three to send it into overtime. Possibly gassed both mentally and physically, the Illini don’t hit a field goal in overtime, and Weber’s decision not to call a timeout before Paul’s missed three at the buzzer costs Illinois the game. Illinois is quickly becoming a team that needs to make comebacks (not a good thing, even if they’re good at getting back in these games).
Play of the Game: After Elias Harris puts Gonzaga up 85-83 with 12.6 seconds in overtime, Paul misses a three at the buzzer during a frazzled Illinois possession. Weber chooses not to use Illinois’ last timeout, and this gaffe proves costly.
Player of the Game: Dominique Keller.
Things I Disliked:
● Terrible start with no focus or urgency.
● Tisdale’s maddening inconsistency from one game to the next.
● Hesitant and poor coaching (not using the final timeout) late in overtime.
● Too many threes (20 misses on 24 attempts).
Things I Liked:
● Gritty comeback (didn’t like the fact that Illinois need to make yet another comeback).
● Keller’s overall performance (especially his defensive intensity).
● Jordan playing a gritty game as well.
● The United Center crowd (a great atmosphere and advantage). Technically, this was a neutral-site game, but Gonzaga’s Mark Few was right to call it a road game for his Bulldogs.
That’s it for another Illini Tale of the Tape.
Up next: Iowa at Illinois.
Topics: Bill Cole, Brandon Paul, Bruce Weber, D.J. Richardson, Demetri McCamey, Dominique Keller, Gonzaga Basketball, Gonzaga Bulldogs, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Jeff Jordan, Jeffrey Jordan, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Tyler Griffey