Friday, February 13, 2009

Illini Come Back to Beat Wildcats

It looked like another one of those road games for Illinois. They had played so well at home recently and it seemed like they just needed one road win to cement their place near the top of the Big Ten. Last night it was more bricklaying than cementing against Northwestern.

With 5:25 to go, the Illini trailed 57-43 marking their largest deficit of the entire game. About 5:22 later, Illinois had a one point lead marking their largest, and only, lead of the night. During those five-plus minutes the Illini must have blacked out, then imagined themselves back in Assembly Hall because it was solid offense and better defense that led the Illini back. Oh, and Trent Meacham.

Meacham had 12 of his 15 points in the last five minutes, including a three with about a minute to go, followed by a layup about 20 seconds later to make it a one point game. As if the offensive revolution wasn't enough for Meacham, he also caused a turnover on Northwestern's next possession, giving the Illini the ball with 14 seconds remaining.

Demetri McCamey was the hero when he banked in the game winner with 2.9 seconds left. Actually, he was heroic long before that, as he finished the night with a game-high 21 points. Chester Frazier was also great for the Illini, posting eight assists and seven rebounds, with only one turnover.

That makes it 20 wins for the Illini with six games left. They will be at Indiana Sunday, then back to Assembly Hall next Wednesday against Penn State. With Big Ten leader Michigan State playing Purdue and Wisconsin in their next two, this is a good chance for Illinois to gain some ground.

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