McBride's 19 Lead Illini Over Purdue

After a slow start, the Illini did what was expected of them on Saturday afternoon. They beat the Purdue Boilermakers handily. Rich McBride led the Illini with 19 points, and James Augustine contributed yet another double double in Illinois 76-58 win over Matt Painter's crew from West Lafayette.

There is nothing like two home games against the two worst teams in the Big Ten Conference to get some much needed confidence for two players. Against Minnesota, it was Jamar Smith who finally played a good game in conference play scoring 16 points on 5-for-8 shooting from behind the three point line. On Saturday afternoon, it was Rich McBride scoring a team-high 19 points on 6-for-10 shooting, and 3-for-6 from behind the three point line in the Illini's 76-58 victory over the Purdue Boilermakers.

While the eighteen point victory makes it look like the Illini controlled the game from the outset that was not the case. Purdue jumped out to a quick 7-0 lead, before the Illini knew what hit them. The Boilermakers held a 12-4 lead with 14:02 left in the first half. After that great start by the Boilermakers, the Illini took control of the game, holding Purdue to just fifteen more points in the half. The Illini defense stymied the Boilermaker offense, and created offense for itself with steals leading to quick points, most notably a breakaway slam dunk for senior James Augustine. The Illini went into the halftime break with a 35-27 lead.

Purdue started out the second half, much the same way they started out the first half. They cut the Illini lead to just four at 39-35 with an 8-4 run to start out the second half, but that was as close as they would get for the rest of the game. The Illini used their transition game to run the already short-handed Boilermakers up and down the court, and went on a 17-3 run that decided the game.

The Illini had three players in double figures during Saturday afternoon's win: James Augustine, Dee Brown, and Rich McBride. James Augustine recorded another double double on the season with 11 points and 12 rebounds (five offensive). Dee Brown scored 12 points on 5-for-14 shooting, but he missed all five attempts from behind the three point line. The star of the game, though, was junior shooting guard Rich McBride.

There were times that I had to do a double take and ensure it wasn't a previous Illini guard with a hairline that has receded far too early in his life. Rich was making drives to the lane, passing up open three point shots with pump fakes to get closer, and better shots, and doing things offensively he had not done all season. His defense, and ball handling was as steady as it has been all season, but his scoring outburst will definitely get him more praise from those watching the games. The effort Rich had at getting the ball into the lane was evident as he took four free throws, increasing his season total number of free throws to eleven.

  • The Illini extended their home-court winning streak to 33 games with Saturday's win over the Boilermakers. They are now tied for the longest in the country with the Southern Illinois Salukis.

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