Illini Wonk
Wednesday, December 22, 2004
  It wasn't pretty, but we're braggin'
The Illini just got their fifth straight win against the Missouri Tigers in the annual "Braggin' Rights" matchup in St. Louis. It wasn't pretty, but they got the job done in the end and equaled their best start to the season since 1989 with the 70-64 win.

Quote of the game was from Brent Mussberger with about four minutes left in the first half. He said "Illinois had that one stretch where they beat Gonzaga, Wake Forest then ranked then #1, and then went down to Little Rock and beat Arkansas. No team in the country has had a three game stretch like that. They should be a unanimous #1. Are you listening Mr. Vitale? We'll wait for the Tar Heels in march. they well might win it, but right now Illinois is clearly #1 in the country." I couldn't agree more and couldn't have said it any better. After the game on ESPNEWS, Mussberger said the game was so close because of Missouri's good defense and Illinois' poor three-point shooting.

In a post-game interview with Steve Lavin-also on ESPNEWS-Bruce Weber credited Missouri's defense for taking away some of their set plays. He also said that a rivalry game like this hardly ever results in a bl0w-out.

There were some encouraging signs. 1) Illinois shot free throws well down the stretch. 2) Luther Head continues to play well. 3) Deron Williams took over the game down the stretch, much like he did at Arkansas when the Hogs got close. Maybe he needs more close games to play well. I'll have more to say later about the game and the Illini season.
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