Saturday, January 14, 2006
Nothing comes easy in the BIG 10 during conference b-ball play, especially this year. It's like trying to get more than 10 minutes in against EDEN in a 60-minute O3 session. Not an easy taks, but ILLINOIS took care of business today by beating a very game Michigan squad 79-74 at the Hall in Champaign.
Dee led the way with 26 points and looked much better today than in weeks past. He was in control of his game and the team. He finished shooting 6-17 from the field and 9-10 from the stripe. Augustine was another large force down low with 23 points on 9-11 shooting. The dynamic duo led the way today as it needs to be for this team to excel. This one makes 31 in a row (dating back to Jan 17, 2004 - school record) at home and best in the nation. Oskee Wa Wa! Hail to the Chief!
But, when it mattered most up 75-74 with 17 tics on the clock and a 1 & 1 situation at the line, Warren Carter came through by hitting BOTH foul shots to really ice the game. He's only shooting 63% from the charity line this year but knew he would make both after the foul. This was a game of runs, including Dee's 3-point spree after the 53-51 mark. We needed this win today before heading off to Bloomington on Tuesday to take on the very strong Hoosiers of Indiana. The goal this time of year is to protect your house (home court) and to win at least 50% on the road - same for any school in any conference. If you can do that in a 'power' conference like the BIG-10 you will be in good shape heading into the madness of March.
That is going to be a tough place to play, and even tougher to come away with the 'W'. Then we travel to Evanston to take on a dangerous squad in Northwestern. We don't return home until Wednesday, Jan. 25th against Minnesota. So the home-winning streak will remain in tact until then.