Dee and Defense Give Illini First Road Win

With the schedule looking much more favorable for the Illini over their next three games, they needed to get off on the right foot in Evanston on Saturday afternoon. The Illini did just that jumping out to a quick lead over the Wildcats and then coasting to a 58-47 victory. Dee Brown broke out of his slump in Big Ten road games leading the Illini with 18 points and 8 assists.

On Saturday afternoon, the Illini headed north to take on their in-state rival looking for their first road win in the Big Ten. Evanston, IL was covered with a fresh glistening of snow, and at times on Saturday afternoon it looked like the two teams were playing the game while running through the snow. It was just the style of game that Bill Carmody's Northwestern Wildcats like to play, slow and methodical, limiting the number of possessions of the opposition in the hopes to sneak away with a rare victory.

The Fighting Illini started out Saturday afternoon's game playing stellar defense, and making timely shots on offense. The Illini held the Wildcats to just one field goal in the first seven minutes of the game, and built up a 24-9 lead with 3:26 left in the first half. The Illini headed into the halftime with a 32-17 lead. In the second half, the Illini started out on a 14-4 run before easing off the gas and letting the Wildcats crawl closer with a 14-2 run late in the second half. The Illini closed out the game on the free throw line, and ended up defeating the Wildcats 58-47 for their first road win in Big Ten Conference play.

The Illini used their defense to set the tone early and often. As a team Illinois held Northwestern to just two field goals in the first eight minutes of the contest, and only four offensive rebounds. James Augustine did a great job defensively on Vedran Vukusic, holding him to just 5 points on 1-of-13 shooting. Augustine hounded Vukusic for the whole game, and never gave Vedran an open shot on the contest. As a team, Illinois held the Wildcats to just 35.4% from the field, and Northwestern only had two field goals in the first eight minutes of the game.

Offensive Efficiency: 98.24
Defensive Efficiency: 79.61
Offensive Rebounding Percentage: 37.5%
Defensive Rebounding Percentage: 87.1%

After taking the 46-21 lead with just under fourteen minutes left in the second half, the Illini started to coast, and their offense became stagnant, just scoring twelve more points in the next fourteen minutes of the game. Dee Brown broke out of the slump he has been having on the road in the Big Ten with an 18 point, 8 assist, and 2 steal performance in his last game in Evanston. Junior shooting guard Rich McBride was the Illini's second leading scorer as he contributed 12 points on 4-for-12 shooting, all from behind the three point line.

BRUMBY'S RANDOM THOUGHTS
  • Kudos to James Augustine! Sure, he did not score as much as he normally does, but he was the Illini's main defensive presence on Vedran Vukusic all game. Holding a 20 point per game scorer to just 5 points was a great job defensively, no ifs ands or buts about it.
  • Warren Carter led the Illini with 12 rebounds today. Against Indiana, Warren was on the court when the Illini made their run, and he has continued playing well including being the Illini's only back up post presence on Saturday afternoon as Marcus Arnold did not play due to match ups according to Bruce Weber after the game.
  • Great hair by Chester Frazier today. I think he took a page out of the Latrell Sprewell book for that one.

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