Losers of three of the last four following a heartbreaking defeat to the Gonzaga Bulldogs at the United Center, the Illini hoopsters were scheduled for a bit of a snoozer, a home game against the struggling Iowa Hawkeyes on January 5, 2010.
Lineup changes aside, Illinois would cruise to a victory that was easy in the first half but not as pretty in the second 20 minutes.
Anyways, a win’s a win, especially when you’re already 9-5 overall heading into just the second game of what figured to be a competitive Big Ten Conference.
Where I Was for This Game: Watching from home, actually flipping between the game and something else that I can’t remember. Turns out that Iowa was playing Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl during this basketball game, so that’s what I was probably watching. I’m sure Iowa’s entire student body was watching that bowl game as well, and didn’t see any of this hardly hardwood classic. Don’t worry Iowa fans – you didn’t miss a thing.
What I Remember from This Game:
● Bruce Weber making changes to the starting lineup, inserting Bill Cole and Jeff Jordan in for more energy. Demetri McCamey and D.J. Richardson would go to the bench. I understand what Weber was trying to do, but didn’t feel that McCamey deserved to be benched. If I would have benched anyone to teach them a lesson, it would have been either Mike Tisdale or Mike Davis (probably Tisdale, given his performance against Gonzaga) and replaced one of them with Dominique Keller, at least for this game. Anyways, it didn’t matter, as McCamey had a really good game. On the other hand, Tisdale and Davis were a bit quiet.
● Not much else. I know Illinois won by double digits and had a really good first half. To the best of my recollection, the second half wasn’t pretty, as the Illini had a bit of a letdown and didn’t bring the best focus. Let’s see if the Illini Tale of the Tape proves me wrong, or if the Illini played down to the competition. (Turns out I was wrong – Illinois wasn’t as efficient in the second half but the focus was much better than I remembered. My apologies.)
What Surprised Me/Stood Out Upon Second Viewing:
● Forgot that then Iowa Head Coach Todd Lickliter missed three games earlier in the year for treatment of a torn carotid artery (sounds scary).
● Thought that Brandon Paul, not Richardson got benched for this game. This move was a bit surprising because Richardson (who had a bad game against Gonzaga) had been more consistent overall than Paul early in the season. Of course, Richardson would be back in the lineup soon enough and Paul would come off the bench for most of the Big Ten season. Richardson would respond with a big game, especially in the first half.
● At halftime, Iowa had 15 points, just one more than its football team had at the time during the Orange Bowl.
● 48% of Iowa’s shots coming into this game were from behind the three-point line.
● Didn’t realize that this game was a battle of former National Coaches of the Year. I knew Weber won the NABC National Coach of the Year in 2005 but didn’t realize that Stevens won the NABC National Coach of the Year in 2007. He was, of course, with Butler then. That team would lose to eventual National Champion Florida in the Sweet Sixteen.
● Didn’t know that the father of Iowa sophomore Matt Gatens played at Iowa back in the day, when Lute Olson was the coach of the Hawkeyes.
Ok. Let’s do this thing.
Iowa Hawkeyes (5-9, 0-2 in Big Ten) vs. Illinois Fighting Illini (9-5, 1-0)
For reference’s sake, here is Iowa’s starting lineup:
G Cully Payne (Freshman), G Matt Gatens (Sophomore), G Eric May (Freshman), F Aaron Fuller (Sophomore), C Jarryd Cole (Junior), Head Coach Lickliter (since replaced by Siena’s Fran McCaffrey).
Illinois’ new and improved (?) starting lineup:
G Jeff Jordan (Junior), G Brandon Paul (Freshman), F Bill Cole (Junior), F Mike Davis (Junior), C Mike Tisdale (Junior), Head Coach Bruce Weber.
Announcers: Craig Coshun and Jim Jackson
Starting the telecast, Coshun and Jackson highlight Illinois’ difficulties guarding this year, with Jackson saying that Illinois can’t guard the three (he’s right). Jackson notes defending the pick and roll and attacking the glass as the keys to victory for Iowa, and taking advantage of its interior size and pressuring the ball as the keys for Illinois.
● Jeff Jordan: Starts for McCamey. Steals a Gatens’ pass at 17:33.
Back in for Cole at 12:42. Nice assist on pick and roll with Davis. A couple of possessions later, assists on a Richardson three. Good draw and kick there by Jordan.
Another good draw and kick at 9:25 on a Richardson three for an 18-point lead. Good hustle at 8:52, forcing Iowa’s Cole to step out of bounds on a long rebound attempt.
Misses an open corner jumper at the end of the half.
Great job of running the break at 19:03, supplying a perfect bounce pass to Richardson for an easy score. Gets burned on the next possession as Cully Payne hits an acrobatic layup for a 39-17 game.
Good penetration at 14:35, but Tisdale misses a jumper. Picks up a careless defensive foul on rebound. Good hands on next defensive possession spurs an Illini fast break.
Back in for McCamey out of under 12. Makes a beautiful no-look pass to Paul for a layup and 49-30 lead with just under 10 minutes to go.
Overall: No points but 5 assists and 4 rebounds in 23 minutes. Good energy game.
● Brandon Paul: Misses a three on Illinois’ first possession of the game, which was certainly patient after an early touch to Tisdale on the block didn’t lead to a shot. Misses a forced pop-back jumper and then later attacks the rim for a layup. Misses but gets fouled on the play. That opportunity came off three Illinois offensive rebounds on that possession. Hits both free throws to give Illinois a 4-3 lead. Certainly aggressive, but not playing within context of offense. Nice find to Tisdale off pick and roll; Tisdale misses open jumper.
Back in for Richardson just before under-8. On first possession back in the game, does a nice job attacking and getting into the lane from the wing, but throws a pass that is too hot to handle for Tisdale. A fancy pass there, when a simpler pass would have been better. Rare Illini turnover in this game.
Misses an out-of-control layup with the shot clock down to one. Illinois with a poor possession out of the under-8, though Paul’s ability to get into the lane with ease was impressive. Would have been better to go straight up with the ball rather than drawing contact. Gets yanked for Richardson shortly after.
Starts second half on bench, replaced by Richardson. Comes in for Cole at 15:07. Great steal of an Iowa pass at 13:29, right after McCamey allowed an offensive rebound. Jumped high in the air to steal that pass, and then was fouled on the way down. Terrific energy play/anticipation. Gets a dunk on next Illinois possession, following a great pass from Keller, giving Illinois a 43-24 lead at 13:10. Nearly forces a steal with active hands on next possession, but the ball takes a fortuitous bounce for Iowa, with May getting an easy layup for a 43-26 game. Good post feed to Keller on next Illini possession, but Keller misses a left-handed hook on the baseline.
Loses Gatens off an inbounds play out of the under 12, resulting in an Iowa basket and 45-28 game. Follows with a nice assist on a Davis layup (plus the foul). Great baseline cut and finish on a layup off a Jordan pass at 9:56, giving Illinois a 49-30 lead.
Nice pass to Tisdale out of pick and roll with a little more than 7 minutes left leads to an Iowa foul and two Tisdale free throws. Misses a quick three at 6:31 – too early in Illini possession. Allows a three-point play to Gatens at 5:45, reaching in on a driving Gatens and fouling as he shot a driving baseline jumper. Gatens hits the free throw to cut the game to 53-34 at 5:45. Gets quickly replaced by Bill Cole.
Overall: 6 points (2-for-7 shooting), 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 turnovers in 15 minutes. Better activity in second half, following a quiet first half. That has kind of been his calling card the last couple of games. Can look spectacular in spurts, questionable in others. A work in progress, but certainly worth the wait.
● Bill Cole: Has an energy play on Illinois’ first defensive possession, blocking a ball off Iowa’s Cole. Possession to Illinois. Iowa’s May hits a three on the next possession to give the Hawkeyes a 3-2 lead, with Cole rushing to closeout after helping out inside. Gets an offensive board following a Mike Davis miss. Throws a difficult pass to Tisdale that is fumbled out of bounds at 17:22.
Nearly grabs an offensive rebound following Keller miss around 14:14. Good job of crashing the boards. Misses a three just before 13-minute mark. Good penetration and dish by McCamey, and a good step in by Cole, who may have missed but at least took the open shot (which has been a problem at times) earlier in the season.
Good closeout (along with McCamey) at 4:03, but Iowa’s Devan Bawinkel hits a tough three. Nice offensive board at 2:14 following a McCamey miss. Extended possession results in a Tisdale layup. Nice job filling the lane late in the half gives Illinois a 37-15 lead.
Gets lucky at 16:54 of the second half as Gatens misses a wide open three from the corner. Was a bit slow to closeout after Richardson allowed penetration to Payne.
Good offensive board on missed Davis free throw at 11 minutes but can’t finish inside. Nice helpline defense and steal at 9:50 after Iowa’s Fuller tried to make a pass while caught in the air. Good closeout at 9:26 as Gatens misses a three.
Nice steal at 4:40 pays off with a dunk on the other end and a 55-34 lead. Good feed from Davis on the play. Nice help defense and block of Gatens leads to under-4 timeout.
Overall, in first start of season (and career), scores 4 points, grabs four rebounds, blocks two shots and comes up with 2 steals (and no turnovers). Did a lot of nice little things and brought good energy out of the gate.
● Mike Davis: Nice offensive board of a Paul miss; rushed shot and missed. Misses a rise-and-fire jumper around 17 minutes but comes up with an offensive rebound off a Tisdale miss on the next possession.
Good job of diving off the pick and roll game with Jordan, hitting a one-hand floater to give Illinois an 11-3 lead with 12:19 to go.
Nice punch out of a missed Iowa three at 9:44. Couldn’t secure the rebound but punched the ball to McCamey.
Good job of running on the break and filling the middle lane results in a two-hand slam and a 26-7 lead. Great outlet pass to McCamey leads to a Richardson three and 29-7 lead.
Rushes and misses a baseline hook at 17:53. Got a good post entry there but was too quick with his move; it didn’t look like he had the ball in his hand. Poor closeout on next defensive possession as Cully Payne hits a three for a 39-22 game. Considering that Payne is not even six feet and that Davis is probably 7 feet when his arms are extended, that was a poor job of using his length. Misses a quick one-hander at 16:29 – it looked like he went up for that shot at 60% energy. Has a layup blocked at the rim off the pick and roll game at 15:59. May have been goaltending but went up a bit too soft for my liking.
Good dive and finish at 11:18 off pick and roll, getting a layup to spin in for a 47-28 lead. Misses the free throw. Slow closeout on Iowa’s Cole off a pick and roll leads to a jumper and a 47-30 game at 10:51. Can’t catch a Keller post pass at 10:21. Tough pass as Iowa came away with the ball.
Overall, finishes with 6 points and 5 rebounds in 24 minutes. Didn’t look interested at times and was a bit nonchalant with his offensive game in the second half. A quiet game.
● Mike Tisdale: Rattles home a half-hook to the baseline to give Illinois a 2-0 lead. Jackson notes the importance of Tisdale not picking up the ticky-tack fouls. Misses a jumper from the top-of-the-key following a Bill Cole rebound of a Mike Davis miss. Can’t corral a Bill Cole pass under the basket at 17:22. Not the greatest pass, but should have caught it. Rebounds a missed Gatens’ three, which was wide open and came off Jordan allowing the baseline to Payne and good Iowa ball movement. Misses an open corner jumper out of the pick and roll with Paul, who made a nice pass.
Can’t corral a Paul pass just before the under-8. Has struggled with a couple of catchable passes.
Nice box out at 4:57 on a May missed three leads to an over-the-back foul on the Hawkeyes.
Misses a half hook in the lane at 2:43. Didn’t get good elevation there and the shot was a bit flat. Had a smaller Iowa player on him, but looked a bit bothered on the play. Nice footwork, strength and patience at 2:02 as he banks in layup for a 33-15 lead. Gets another post touch on the next possession, and is fouled on the ground.
Misses a baseline hook to start second half. Got bodied there and struggled with contact, resulting in a short shot. A very lazy closeout of Iowa’s Cole at 18:13 results in a top-of-the-key jumper and 39-19 game. Poor defensive effort there by Tisdale. Picks up an over the back foul on next Illini possession. Misses an open jumper at 17:04, after nearly having a lazy cross-court pass to Bill Cole stolen.
After drawing an Iowa on-the-ground foul following a post touch, Tisdale misses another open jumper at 14:35 following great penetration by Jordan. Good activity on the boards following a missed Paul three around 12 minutes, as Tisdale tapped the ball several times before hitting it out to Jordan. The Illini will unfortunately turn the ball over. Good box out and rebound after Payne blew by Jordan and missed a layup with under 12 minutes to go.
With three seconds left on the shot clock out of the under 8, Tisdale air balls a three. Not the best play there from Weber coming out of the television timeout. Nice job of attacking and drawing a foul after setting a screen for Paul and rolling at 7:06. Makes one of two free throws to put Illinois up 53-31. Picks up a needless offensive foul at 6 minutes when trying to post up. Misses an indecisive fade away on the block with five minutes to go. Good post-up and catch at 4:15 draws another Iowa foul in the post. Hits both free throws to give Illinois a 57-34 lead. Gets replaced by Richard Semrau.
Overall, finishes with just 7 points and 2 rebounds in 27 minutes. A quiet game and wasn’t tough enough at times in the post against smaller Iowa players. Can get away with this game against Iowa, but not other Big Ten opponents.
● Demetri McCamey: Comes in at 16:04 to replace Jordan. Nice assist on Keller bucket. Hits his first shot at 13:53, a three to give Illinois a 9-3 lead. Playing under control early, doing a good job of getting penetration and kicking to Cole for a three that is missed just before the 13-minute mark. Nice assist on a Richardson three with 11:45 to go. McCamey is running the show early and looking to get his teammates involved.
At 10:19, has a nice assist to Griffey for an open jumper. Good job of moving the ball from side to side. Quick reversal. A bit out of control at 9:41 as he picks up a block on an Iowa player off the break. Was close to a charge.
Nice pull-up and pop back jumper at 6:46 to give Illinois a 24-7 lead. Gets lucky on next defensive possession when he loses Payne, who misses an open three. Iowa gets the offensive board on the play. Good help defense and hands on this extended possession leads to a steal and break. Shows great control, stopping at the block and feeding Mike Davis with a bounce pass for a dunk and 26-7 Illinois lead. Beautiful behind-the-back pass on next possession leads to a corner Richardson three and 29-7 lead with 5:30 to go. Some razzle dazzle on the break.
Poor containment on the baseline at 3:03 allows Gatens to break down the Illinois defense and hit a teammate for an easy layup and a 31-12 game. Falls asleep on next Iowa possession as he does not cover Gatens, who pulls up for a three and buries it for a 31-15 game. Two mental mistakes in a row. Weber calls a timeout after that poor defense. Bit of a rushed shot out of the timeout but Coles gets an offensive board. Nice spinning layup off an inbounds play at 1:02 gives Illinois a 35-15 lead. Nice control on the transition on the next possession, using a pump fake and hitting Cole for a layup and 22-point lead (37-15). Good penetration and kick at the end of half, but Jordan misses an open jumper at the buzzer.
Back in at 17:53 of second half, replacing Jordan. Good closeout at 16:15 results in a Gatens air ball.
Great lob pass to Keller on the break ends a 9-0 Iowa run and puts Illinois up 41-24 with 14 minutes to go. Smart decision there. McCamey with seven assists. Picks up a foul on next possession, after nearly making a steal. Good energy. Allows an offensive rebound on next Iowa possession, but Paul will bail him out with a great steal. Nice penetration leads to an open Paul three that is missed just before the 12-minute mark. Beautiful job of filling the middle and catching a wild Paul pass on the break. Then does a great job of using his left hand to hit a high banking floater over the Iowa defense from the right-hand block. Basket gives Illinois a 45-26 lead at the under-12. McCamey has 21 assists and just 4 turnovers in his last three games; why did he not start again? Guess, Weber was doing it more to set an example, to get the point across that McCamey must do a better job of leading the team as its point guard, specifically in terms of starting games much better.
Comes back in around 9:30 and shows good patience in offense, passing up on two difficult shots. Poor containment at 8:03 leads to Iowa penetration, a foul on Tisdale and one-of-two free throws for a 52-31 game.
Great box out at 6:10, and then throws the ball off an Iowa defender while falling out of bounds. Misses Tisdale on a post up at 5:29 but draws a foul on a drive. A bit forced there.
Air balls a three out of the under 4, with the shot clock running down on the play.
Overall, responds to benching by not pouting, but playing under control. Finishes with 9 points, 7 assists, 3 rebounds, 1 steal and no turnovers in 28 solid minutes. Has really been doing a good job of cutting down turnovers in last couple of games.
● D.J. Richardson: Comes in at 16:04 to replace Paul. Deflects the ball out of bounds at 15:47 to lead to under-16. Nice draw and kick by Richardson on McCamey three. Hits a corner three at 11:45 to give Illinois a 14-3 run. Hits another three on the next possession, putting Illinois up 17-3. Good job of sliding his feet there as Jordan penetrated.
Just misses taking a charge on Fuller at 10:36, providing good help line defense after Davis got blown by on the baseline. Davis with the foul and Fuller hits one of two to put the game at 17-4. Cans another three at 9:25 to give Illinois a 22-4 lead. Good job of sliding his feet as Jordan penetrated, and then stepping in and shooting in one motion. Finally misses at 8:22 on a nice pull-up jumper off the bounce. 9 early points and 3 rebounds.
Gets lucky at around 5:38 as Payne blows by him but misses a layup. Does a nice job of getting on the break, and drills his fourth three on a gorgeous behind-the-back feed from McCamey (and good outlet pass from Davis to McCamey). Richardson is 4-for-4 for three.
Gets called for a phantom call at 1:45 when Payne slips on the floor. Gets a defensive board later in the possession.
Starts second half for Paul. Beautiful left-handed layup at 19:03 puts Illinois up 39-15. Good job of filling the lane following an Illini rebound of a Hawkeye miss, and a great job of extending the ball there into his shot. Really athletic finish. Misses a three on next possession – a quick shot there. Has a quick layup blocked out of bounds at 16:44. Is allowing way too much penetration to Payne early in the second half. Travels, leading to the under-16.
Picks up his third foul around 15 minutes (on a Cole drive that leads to two Iowa free throws), and is replaced by Jordan.
Back in at 9 minutes and immediately hits a contested three for a 52-30 Illinois lead. Tough shot there from Richardson, who has found his shooting stroke after several tough outings. Air balls a three at 7:38, leading to the under-8. A bit of a heat check there as the Illini shot clock was winding down and the offense going nowhere (with McCamey being guilty of dribbling too much).
Picks up his fourth foul at 6:16 as he allows more penetration to Payne. Quickly replaced by Jordan.
Overall: Responds with a very good performance following rough outing against Gonzaga. Finishes with 17 points (15 of which came from three), 5 rebounds, 1 assist and 2 turnovers in 26 minutes. Sitting on the bench seemed to wake up Richardson, who had much better awareness and aggressiveness on the court in this game. Found his shooting stroke, which had lately gone MIA.
● Dominique Keller: In for Davis right before under-16. Immediately scores on Illinois first offensive possession out of the under-16, getting a nice one-hand shot in the lane to give Illinois a 6-3 lead. Misses a difficult bank shot on the next possession as the shot clock was winding down. Gives up the lane to an Iowa player but hustles down the board with Illinois up 6 at 13:30. Good trap of Cully Payne at 12:49 leads to a steal. He is fouled after the steal at half court.
Back in at 4:43 for Davis. Quickly drains a long two for a 31-7 lead. Another assist from McCamey. Misses a running layup on the next possession and then picks up a foul leading to under-4. Poor job of moving his feet once he got his body into the smaller Payne.
Enters just before the under 16, replacing the ineffective Tisdale.
Nice job of getting out on the break at 14 minutes. Ends a streak of 8 straight missed Illini field goals when he dunks a lob pass from McCamey for a 41-24 lead. Great curl and assist on a Paul dunk at 13:10. Good job of faking a layup and throwing a wrap-around pass under the basket to the open Paul. Great unselfishness and court awareness from Keller, who would usually shoot that shot. Good activity after missing a left-handed hook with 12:35 to go as he tracks down his miss and gets the board. Following a Jordan offensive board, turns the ball over with a careless and rushed cross-court pass.
Overall: 6 points, 3 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 2 turnovers in 16 minutes. Some mistakes here and there, but a solid energy game.
● Tyler Griffey: In for Keller, just before under-12. Commits a foul immediately during a trap, leading to the under-12 timeout.
Coming out of under-12, really extending his defense and getting into body of defender. A bit too aggressive though as the Iowa defender blows by him; the ball is stripped in the lane and two or three Illini get on the floor to tie it up. Possession goes to Iowa. Splashes a confident-looking jumper at 10:19 off a nice feed from McCamey to give Illinois a 19-4 lead. Good hands seconds later when he strips and nearly steals the ball off the Iowa pick and roll game; can’t come up with the loose ball, however. Follows up with a good closeout from the corner as Iowa misses another three.
Enters at 9:26 of second half for Keller. Can’t secure a defensive rebound at 8:25 following good box out, but the diving Iowa player deflects the loose ball to Tisdale. Misses tough turnaround in post at 8:17. First time I’ve seen him take that shot all year. He’s pretty much been a mid-range shooter thus far. Did a good job of posting and spinning baseline, but wasn’t square there.
Out of under 8, plays nice helpline defense on Iowa pick and roll, ultimately forcing a travel on the play.
Back in late in the game, gets caught in the lane and is unable to recover on a May three with 1 minute left. Illinois still leads 59-42 after the make.
Overall: 2 points, 1 steal and 1 turnover in 9 minutes, the most he’s seen in a while. He will become a bigger part of the rotation as the Big Ten season progresses.
● Richard Semrau: Sees his first action in four games when he replaces Tisdale with four minutes left in second half.
Good offensive block out and rebound at 3:23 following a McCamey air ball with the shot clock running down. Rattles home both free throws for a 59-34 lead. Great hustle at 1:11 after a Chisholm missed three with Illinois up 20. Semrau nearly tracks down the long offensive rebound from the other end of the court before falling into the Illini bench. Weber gives him a pat on the back for the hustle. Wish this kid got a little more time at Illinois. Good defensive rebound at 25 seconds and Illinois runs out the clock.
Overall: 2 points and 2 boards in 4 minutes.
● Bubba Chisholm: Enters at 2:19 in second half, for Jordan. Commits an offensive foul at 1:55 when he charges off the dribble. Misses a three at 1:11.
● Stan Simpson: Enters at 2:19 in second half, for Keller. Slow to recover on Fuller, who hits a layup and gets fouled at 1:38. He hits the free throw for a 59-39 game.
● Bruce Weber: Illinois leads 4-3 at the under-16 as his lineup changes haven’t provided a noticeable spark, at least on the scoreboard. While the Illini do have four offensive rebounds, they are 1-for-7 from the field. Defensively, the Illini have forced a couple of Iowa turnovers, and the energy has been better. Iowa is only 1-for-3 from the field, with two of their shots from the three-point line.
Illinois leads 17-3 at the under-12, as the Illini are on a 15-0 run. Good ball movement and penetration on offense is leading to open threes and mid-range jumpers off pick and roll game. McCamey and Jordan are doing a good job of running the show, while Richardson and Davis are in the right places. Defensively, the Illini have a lot more energy early as compared to the starts of the last two games against Gonzaga and Northwestern. The Illini are doing a lot of trapping and Iowa is missing contested threes. A few unforced Iowa turnovers have helped as well. Weber’s message has apparently been grasped by McCamey and Richardson, at least early.
Up 22-7 at the under-8. Iowa does not score for more than 10 minutes until Lickliter’s son hits a corner three. Illini defense has been very active, and Iowa offense has been atrocious (which is expected with a very young team lacking much talent). Richardson has played great on both ends, getting a pat on the butt from Weber when replaced by Paul just before the under-8.
Up 31-10 at the under-4. McCamey is picking apart Iowa in the half court and on the break, and the Hawkeyes are struggling mightily to even get shots off. Wow. This Iowa team is bad, unfortunately due to suspensions, transfers and a lot of things out of Lickliter’s control.
Weber calls a timeout at 2:38 as Illinois has allowed 5 straight points out of the under-4. Breakdowns in concentration there, as McCamey failed to get to Matt Gatens. Illinois leads 31-15 at this point. Let’s see how they close the half. Illinois closes out on a 6-0 run to lead 37-15. After several defensive lapses, McCamey makes up for it on the offensive end, scoring a layup and assisting on a Cole layup. I may not have agreed with Weber’s benching of McCamey at the time, but the junior has responded with nearly a mistake-free half. With that said, the Illini are playing Iowa, the worst team in the Big Ten. It is nice to be up early in the game rather than playing from behind, which has seemed to be the case lately for the Illini.
At halftime, Illinois is shooting 52%; Iowa 23%. Illinois is 5-for-8 from three; Iowa 4-for-13. Illinois with 25 bench points to 8 for Iowa (those numbers are bit skewed with regular starters McCamey and Richardson coming off the bench). Illinois is plus-10 on the boards (20 to 10), and plus 8 in point paints (12 to 4). Illinois with 4 turnovers compared to 7 turnovers for Iowa. Illinois allows a season-low in points, 15 in the first half.
Weber starts the second half with McCamey and Paul (rather than Richardson) on the bench. Jim Jackson talks about how this is a golden opportunity to put the throat down on Iowa early in the second half. Of course, the Illini bring terrible energy at the start of the half. Offensively, it’s too much dribbling and one-on-one action, with some quick shots resulting in a 1-for-8 shooting start. Defensively, the Illini are allowing way too much penetration, as Payne is beating Richardson at will. The game is 39-22 but could be closer as Iowa has missed some open threes. Illinois is getting outhustled and outworked here at the start of the second half, and it’s disappointing, especially after a first half characterized by great Illini energy.
Iowa on a 9-0 run to cut the game to 39-24 just out of under 16. Jackson notes that Illinois is lacking the defensive intensity of first half and not as crisp on offense. Illinois plays with better energy in next couple of minutes, leading 45-26 at the under 12. The Illini got several offensive rebounds in that stretch and easy interior buckets off good, unselfish ball movement. Defensively, the Illini were better, though Payne is getting into the lane way too much. Iowa with just 9 field goals in the game, shooting an abysmal 26%.
Have extended the game to 52-31 at the under-8. Weber has been trying different lineups, subbing in four guys at time. He finishes with McCamey, Richardson, Cole, Tisdale and Griffey in that segment. Illinois’ depth is simply too much for Iowa, which is 6-for-16 this half. Illinois is 7-for-21.
Illinois leads 57-34 at the under-4. Cole with some nice hustle plays in that segment. Iowa’s Matt Gatens has really struggled, but is still playing hard.
Illinois wins 59-42 as Iowa makes some ground against the end of the Illini bench.
Overall: Illinois takes care of business against a really bad Iowa team, winning 59-42. Starting lineup changes are the main storyline here, with the benched starters (McCamey and Richardson) responding with big games. Illinois plays a great first half and is sufficient enough in the second half. The Illini actually look interested in playing defense early in the game. One troubling aspect of this game is the play of Tisdale and Davis, with both players rather quiet.
Play of the Game: Late in the first half, Illinois is on the break when McCamey whips a behind-the-back pass with his left hand to Richardson in the corner. Richardson buries the three (to go 4-for-4 from beyond the arc at that point), and the Illini are rolling. The play is symbolic of McCamey and Richardson both having very good games after getting benched by Head Coach Bruce Weber.
Player of the Game: I’ll go with Richardson, who had 17 points and played with better focus and energy coming off a rough game against Gonzaga. McCamey was also strong.
What I Liked:
● Illinois taking care of business against a team it should beat.
● McCamey’s overall floor game (no turnovers).
● Richardson with much better focus.
● Good defensive energy at the start.
● A lead at halftime (first one in four or five games if my memory serves me right).
What I Didn’t Like:
● Benching McCamey (would have liked to see one of the big guys benched, preferably Tisdale).
● Tisdale having another quiet game (two straight). Davis was also a bit quiet and lethargic at times.
● Only 59 points against Iowa.
● 41% shooting from the floor.
As I can’t find any video highlights of this game, enjoy this a little piece of Iowa-Illinois basketball history.
Well, that’s it for a rather uneventful Illini Tale of the Tape.
Next up: Illinois at Indiana, where the Illini would get behind yet comeback again.
Topics: Assembly Hall, Bill Cole, Brandon Paul, Bruce Weber, D.J. Richardson, Demetri McCamey, Dominique Keller, Fran McCaffrey, Illini Basketball, Illinois Basketball, Iowa Basketball, Iowa Hawkeye Basketball, Iowa Hawkeyes, Jeff Jordan, Jeffrey Jordan, Mike Davis, Mike Tisdale, Richard Semrau, Stan Simpson, Todd Lickliter, Tyler Griffey, U-of-I Basketball, University Of Illinois