Illini Win South Padre Invitational

The Illini are the champions of the 2005 South Padre Invitational after defeating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 77-57 on Saturday evening in South Padre. James Augustine led the Illini with 18 points and 7 rebounds, and was named the Tournament's Most Valuable Player.

After struggling the previous day against Wichita State in the semifinals of the South Padre Invitational, the Fighting Illini were able to defeat the Scarlet Knights from Rutgers 77-57 in the tournament finals to claim the South Padre Invitational Championship. James Augustine was named the Tournament MVP, something he is sure to cherish alongside his Big Ten Tournament MVP Award from last season, or maybe not. Joining James on the All-Tournament team was the Illini's starting backcourt, Dee Brown and Rich McBride.

Coming off a their second lackluster performance on the season (the first was last Sunday's game against Texas – Pan American), the Illini once again rebounded with a performance that lived up to their national ranking in their twenty point victory over Rutgers. The Tournament MVP, James Augustine, led the Illini in scoring on Saturday afternoon with 18 points on 7-9 shooting from the floor, improving his already stellar field goal percentage. Augustine also pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds. Sophomore swing man Brian Randle scored 16 points while pulling down 5 rebounds, 4 off the offensive glass. In the course of the Illini's first five games, Randle has become the Illini's best offensive rebounder, and it has given him a way to get in the scoring column while he continues to work on his jump shot.

After yesterday's very poor offensive performance, the Illini seemed to make a conceited effort to get better shots against Rutgers. The Illini only took 15 three-point shots, and they got the ball inside a lot more as the Illini big men combined for 22 of the Illini's 51 shots. Another good sign that the Illini were not just a jump shot oriented team against the Scarlet Knights was their 29 free throw attempts were scattered around the lineup, from the big men to the guards. The Illini also took much better control of the basketball, only committing 10 turnovers for the game.

Offensive Efficiency: 124.68
Defensive Efficiency: 92.29

The improvement of the Illini offense is a good sign heading into Tuesday night's contest in Chapel Hill against the Illini's opponent in last season's National Championship game, the North Carolina Tarheels. Illini senior point guard Dee Brown was only able to play 22 minutes due to foul trouble, but he also bounced back from his poor performance against Wichita State by scoring 10 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 0-for-2 from behind the three point line.

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