Illini Clamp Down on Hoyas, Win 58-48

The shooting inside of Champaign's Assembly Hall was as cold as the weather outside on Thursday evening. The Illini used a stifling defense to overcome poor shooting of their own in a 58-48 win over the Georgetown Hoyas.

The weather outside was frigid.

It matched the shooting inside the Assembly Hall tonight as the Illinois Fighting Illini used defensive pressure and offensive rebounds to defeat the Georgetown Hoyas 58-48, in front a surprisingly full Assembly Hall crowd, on a night where snow and wind made the trip to the game longer than the actual game itself.

The Illini held Georgetown to 13 first half points on 23% shooting, and outrebounded the taller Hoyas by 13, 44-31. The Illini needed the defensive efficiency, since their offense couldn't ever seem to get into gear. After a quick 10-0 run to start the game, including 2 3-point baskets by Rich McBride, the Illini's shooting touch went ice-cold, as they finished the half shooting only 29.7%. But stifling defense, a 16-4 run over 14 minutes in the middle of the half, and 13 first half offensive rebounds allowed the Illini to take a 28-13 lead into the locker room.

The second half was significantly better for Georgetown, as they shot 50% and raised their overall shooting percentage to 38% for the game. The Illini remained cold from the field, shooting only 36% to raise their percentage to 32% for the game.

The Illini continued their strong offensive rebounding in the second half, grabbing an additional 8 boards to raise their game total to 28.

The Illini essentially traded baskets with Georgetown the entire second half, never leading by more than 14, nor less than 8. The Illini iced the game from the free throw line, making 9-11 shots from the charity stripe in the final 4 minutes of the game.

The Illini were led in scoring by Dee Brown, who scored 16 points. Dee continued to struggle from the field, hitting only 5-16 shots, although there were at least 4 instances where Dee was forced to throw up a last second shot to beat the shot clock. James Augustine was the only other Illini in double figures with 10 points, and he also led the team with 13 rebounds, for the 20th double-double of his career.. Brian Randle stuffed the stat sheet again, scoring 8 points, grabbing 9 rebounds (6 offensive), and added an assist. Jamar Smith continued his hot shooting from 3-point land, hitting 3-5 from behind the arc to account for his 9 points, and Rich McBride also shot well from deep, hitting 2 of 3 3-point attempts and adding a couple of free throws tally 8 points.

Georgetown only had one player in double figures. Jeff Green scored 21, 20 in the second half.

The Illini now head for Portland, Oregon to face the Oregon Ducks in a Saturday night game. Oregon is coming off a 14 point loss to the same Georgetown team Illinois handled tonight.

Stay tuned to IlliniBoard for postgame quotes from players and coaches.

News and Notes:
  • Remarkably good crowd tonight…there were pockets of empty seats high in C Section, but for the most part the students and A Section folks got to the game despite horrible weather.
  • Warren Carter looked good in limited minutes. Best play of the night was at about the 12 minute mark in the second half, when Warren absolutely flattened Jeff Green on a clean pick. Green went down like he hit a tree.
  • Shaun Pruitt disappeared for minutes at a time tonight. Roy Hibbert was a shot blocking machine in the first half ( I think he had 5 in the first 6 minutes), and Shaun never looked comfortable in the paint after that. James and Brian also tried to go at Hibbert, and he blocked or altered just about every shot that he could get close to.
  • Coach Weber has commented many times that this team will win in December with defense. It was never more evident than tonight, when the team had just enough offense to stake themselves to a lead, and then played great defense the rest of the way to maintain the lead they got in the first 4 minutes of the game.
  • Georgetown scored 21 points below their season average.
  • The Hoya's 38% shooting marked the 6th time this year that the Illini have held a team under 45% shooting for a game.
  • James Augustine is now 6th on the all time rebounding list with 807, passing Nick Weatherspoon.
  • Dee Brown broke into the top 10 all-time scoring list with his 16 points tonight. He passed Dave Scholz's 1,459 point total and now stands at 1,469.
  • Marcus Arnold continued to do the dirty work, grabbing 6 rebounds, hitting the floor multiple times chasing loose balls, and playing tough, physical defense on Hibbard in his 22 minutes tonight.

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