Illini Wonk
Friday, January 07, 2005
  Half done...half perfect
The Illini basketball team has now won half of their games in the regular season...and have half of them left. They pushed their record to 15-0 with a 19 point win against THE Ohio State in Champaign on Wednesday.

The story of the game for the Illini was the play of Junior center James Augustine. His career tying 21 points on 8 of 10 shooting and 10 rebounds led the way for the Illini. Even more impressive is that the stats came against Terence Dials, one of the most hyped big men in the conference. Dials was coming off back-to-back Big Ten player of the week awards and Augustine held him to seven points-less than half his average.

Illini Wonk readers will remember a previous post in which Sports Illustrated writer Seth Davis wrote:

The only question I have about the nation's top-ranked team is whether it can score enough in the post. But that's nitpicking. James Augustine's 9.2 scoring average is more the result of his teammates' abilities than his own shortcomings. At some point, when Illinois needs Augustine to deliver a strong performance, I believe he will.

Augustine delivered and may have put those questions to bed with his performance on Wednesday night. His stats led Mark Tupper to ask of the 6-10, 230 pounder is he on the brink of consistency?

He also garnered the headlines he deserved. Lindsey Willhite of the Chicago Daily Herald said Augustine gave the team a Depth Charge while the Peoria Journal-Star headline simply read Frontcourt - A. In the Bloomington-Normal Pantagraph it was Augustine powers No. 1 Illini past Ohio State and the State Journal-Register had the postman delivers.

Augustine's career night pushed his season scoring average to ten, which means that all five Illini starters are averaging double figures in scoring. While his performance may come as a surprise to some of the pundits, Augustine is capable of big games. As Davis, pointed out above, Augustine's 9.2 scoring average is more the result of his teammates' abilities than his own shortcomings. Illini Wonk believes that one of the primary reasons for the undefeated start to the season has been the plethora of weapons they posess. On any one night, any or all of the five starters are capable of carrying the Illini to victory.
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