Illini Sneak Past Shockers

Sometimes they say it is better to be lucky than good, and on Friday against Wichita State, the Fighting Illini were lucky. Warren Carter put the Illini up 55-54 with a running lay up with just under two seconds on the game clock, but the excitement for the Illini was not over. When the clock expired before Wichita State's desperate half court heave that went in, the Illini left the semifinals of the South Padre Invitational with a lucky win.

When the South Padre Invitational lineup was mentioned, many Illini fans pointed to the game against Wichita State as a very tough game for the young Illini, and they were right. Led by their inside tandem of Paul Miller and Illinois transfer Kyle Wilson, Wichita State gave the Illini everything they could handle. Early in the game, it looked like the Illini were ready to run through the Shockers, but Wichita State fought off the Illini, and took 33-29 lead into the half.

The Illini offense struggled all night. Dee Brown struggled to find open shots, and when he was able to find an open shot, he rarely made it. Frustration settled in for the Illini point guard, and then he began to force the issue resulting in his shooting 3-for-14 from the floor and 5 turnovers. Despite leading the Illini in scoring and rebounding, James Augustine did not play a great game for the Illini. The Illini power forward committed 6 turnovers, and was not able to get to the free throw line all game. In fact, Wichita State controlled the pace of the game, and were the aggressor as the Illini only got to the foul line four times, despite a 21 combined shots from Augustine and sophomore Shaun Pruitt.

Offensive Efficiency: 82.38
Defensive Efficiency: 80.89

As the efficiency numbers show, Friday's contest against Wichita State was the Illini's worst from an offensive standpoint, but their defense was able to keep the Illini in the game. The Illini defense held the Shockers to 38.0% shooting from the floor, and they forced 15 turnovers, many on double teaming the high pick and roll.

The Illini were given a final possession down one point. After a missed shot on that possession, the ball ended up underneath the Illini basket. Bruce Weber called timeout to get his team set up for the final out of bounds play. Rich McBride was throwing the ball inbounds for the Illini, and his first two reads were Dee Brown and Jamar Smith, but both players were covered. Warren Carter saw a lane to the basket after setting a screen for both Brown and Smith broke to the basket, and McBride found him for the game winning shot.

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