cage the Lions
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By LDN staff
[JAN. 22, 2004]
After watching the Illini go through the paces
recently, the LDN staff could never have never guessed what was in
store for everyone Wednesday night in the Assembly Hall. An inspired
group of Illinois players was a stark contrast to what was in
evidence earlier in the week. However, some of the drills that the
players have been working on are paying rich dividends. Notice the
shooting touch of Deron Williams beginning to return. Coach Jay
Price has been working Williams diligently to that end.
We don't know if the team got together
sometime before Wednesday night, but there was definitely a change
of heart over the last couple of days.
Illinois started quickly, and by the
11:59 mark of the first half Illinois led 16-9. However, by the next
timeout, the Nittany Lions had gone on a 7-4 run and pulled within
20-16. That was as close as they would ever get. Once again it was
Roger Powell with the early hot hand, as he had 12 first-half
points. Dee Brown chipped in nine and Luther Head added six.
Illinois shot a blistering 55 percent from the field but finished
the game near 60 percent, mostly due to outstanding shot selection
and breaking down the Lions from the inside out.
Illinois was not content to rest on
their first-half laurels. A smothering 10-0 run to start play after
the intermission quickly put the game out of reach. Illinois' hunger
and renewed attack mentality had paid off! The 10-0 blitz eventually
led to a 12-2 run, then to an 18-4 mark. By then it was just a
matter of what the final score would be. It turned out to be 80-37
in favor of the good guys.
Penn State had started off the Big 10
season playing surprisingly well. They started the night in a tie
for second at 2-1, a half game ahead of the Illini and trailing the
first-place IU Hoosiers by only a half game. That record changed in
a hurry. The topsy-turvy league may just be that crazy all season
[to top of second column in this
Leading the way for the Illini on the
night was Roger Powell with 16 points and Deron Williams with 12.
Dee Brown threw in nine points as did James Augustine, who also had
12 rebounds. AND, with 4:40 left to play, Brian Randle had a
monstrous dunk that had players and fans scurrying to the TVs to see
if it made SportCenter's top 10 highlights of the night. Brian
Cook's former roommate Jerrance Howard nailed two long 3s and
finished the night with a career-high seven points in Illinois' big
However, the stat of the night was on
the defensive side of the ball. The Illini held Penn State to an
all-time Assembly Hall low of 21 percent shooting! We will go on
record right now and predict that if they hold Wisconsin to that
number they will beat the Badgers!
With the win Illinois advanced its
record to 12-4 and 3-2 in conference play. PSU fell to 9-5 and 2-2.
Former Illinois SID Mike Pearson, who now lives in Michigan, was on
hand for the game.
next contest will be a tough test on the road at Wisconsin on