Home > Illinois basketball > Illini take out frustrations on last-place Hawkeyes

Illini take out frustrations on last-place Hawkeyes

CHAMPAIGN – There’s only so many slaps a man can take before he fights back – even if he’s one of the four embattled, message-board berated Illinois seniors.

“Everybody’s been hammering us the whole season,” Illini forward Mike Davis said after Saturday’s 81-68 win over Iowa. “(Fans) talking about , ‘The seniors this, seniors that; seniors not stepping up.’ Us four (Davis, Bill Cole, Demetri McCamey and Mike Tisdale) took it as a challenge to come out and play well.

“We wanted to take it out tonight and step up and just shut people up.”

Tisdale (season-high 25 points), Davis (20 points, nine rebounds) and McCamey (18 points, seven assists) accounted for 78 percent of the Illini offense – just five points less than the Hawkeyes – on a combined 67.6 percent shooting. Cole, who shot 1-for-8 from the field, contributed with six rebounds, three steals, two blocks and two assists.

“I was very proud of our seniors,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.

The Illini showed more joy than relief in this win, which couldn’t be said after the other three wins during a 4-4 February. Weber’s attempt to calm the team’s nerves – a night of wiffle ball at Ubben Basketball Complex, scrapping the scouting report on the Hawkeyes in the process – seemed to pay off.

“What the heck? Try anything,” Weber said. “Wiffle ball, we played a game. Found out most of the guys don’t know anything about baseball.”

The Illinois bench bellowed a collective laugh when Bill Cole missed a dunk late in the second half.

“We gave Bill a lot of trash because he’s had maybe about one or two dunks in his career,” Tisdale said.

Of course, it’s easier to feel relaxed or take pent-up frustration on the last-place Hawkeyes – which trailed by double digits the final 14:30 – than against one of the Big Ten’s best. That’s on the menu for Illinois on Tuesday when it travels to No. 8 Purdue, a team trying to keep pace with first-place Ohio State.

The game isn’t a must-win for the Illini’s NCAA Tournament chances, but it could be the road win Illinois needs to feel secure on Selection Sunday.

“Our seniors are going to have to play like this for us to have any chance (Tuesday),” Weber said.

Categories: Illinois basketball
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