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Thursday, Feb. 24

Dee '3s' Illini to victory

By Greg Taylor          Send a link to a friend

[FEB. 24, 2005]  It would be an understatement to announce how much we love going to Illini games at the Assembly Hall. We are big fans of the chief. We love the Illini band. We get pumped looking up in the stands and being blown away by the sea of orange in attendance. In the last three seasons, we've grown to love hearing Jim Shepherd belt out the words "Dee for 3." Wednesday night, on the way to victory No. 28 for Illinois, the junior from the 'burbs nailed five 3-point baskets in the first half and six for the game, making quick work of the Wildcats of Northwestern as Illinois cruised to an 84-48 victory. Illinois drained 14 3-pointers on the night, one short of the all-time record set back in January against Penn State.

A 21-point favorite heading into the game, Illinois did not disappoint. The Orange Invasion was rolling from the beginning, and the fans were going crazy from the get-go. Illinois led at the break 45-22 and the game really was not that close. Wildcat coach Bill Carmody, a coach we really like, looked helpless to do anything for much of the night as the Illini looked every bit of the No. 1 team in the land. Four players found double figures for "the good guys," as Hawk Harrelson would say, and the Illini looked to be peaking in many ways.

We sure hope our buddies like Jay Mariotti, Skip Bayless, Wildcat alum Michael Wilbon and even Digger Phelps were watching, and we look forward to some good pub on Thursday. Surely shows like "Around the Horn," "Pardon the Interruption," "Cold Pizza" and "Game Night" will be ready to stop the bozo commentary about Illinois not being the best team in the land? Anyway -- off our soapbox and back to the game.

Illinois moved the ball consistently all night long and looked really sharp on offense -- probably the team's best effort with the ball since the Feb. 1 victory in Spartan Land. Brown, Deron Williams and Luther Head were crisp and sharp all night long. And did we mention Illinois clinched a tie for its fourth Big Ten title in five seasons?

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Top 10 sights at the Assembly Hall Wednesday night:

  1. The 3-point buckets were falling with frequency -- they made 12 in the first 25 minutes of the game.
  2. Dee Brown looked like Jeff Mayfield from long range -- money!
  3. Roger Powell scored early and often, making the most of almost every opportunity.
  4. The lead reached 40 points at 75-34 -- beautiful scoreboard site.
  5. Mandy the twirler, an Illini staple for several years, made her final halftime appearance -- and received a standing "o."
  6. Orange, orange and more orange -- need we say more?
  7. Illinois dominated the boards, at one point leading 23-8 on the boards.
  8. While Pittsburgh was losing at home and Duke and Kentucky were struggling with inferior opponents, Illinois decided to drill Northwestern from the start. The turning point in this game was the national anthem.
  9. Gene Monje worked yet another Illinois game -- and the Illini won again. My guess this is the first season in my lifetime the Illini are undefeated with Monje working their games. (I realize this isn't quite so impressive considering Illinois has won all its games.)
  10. Warren Carter looks better and better on the perimeter. I think Randle and Carter will look good sharing the 3 spot next season.

[Greg Taylor]

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