Illini Wonk
Thursday, January 13, 2005
The victory over Penn State last night gives Illinois a record of 17-0, which matches the school's record for the best start to a season. The last time the Illini basketball team started a season 17-0 was in 1988-89 which is also the last time they were ranked #1 and made it to the final four.

The 90-64 win was also the 1,500th in the school's 100-year history. There are only 14 other Division One schools in the 1,500 win club and the only other team in the Big Ten is Indiana with 1,536 (at the rate the two teams are playing, the Illini might pass the Hoosiers next season).

The win kept Illinois at the top of's Power 16 ranking even though their television commentators are falling all over themselves to praise the North Carolina Tar Heels. (Illini Wonk had to mute the television last night after about five minutes of Dick Vitale calling the North Carolina/Georgia Tech game last night). However, even Dickie V has come around to the Illini. In his midseason report he says there is no doubt the "Flyin' Illini" have been the best team, he names Bruce Weber the coach of the year and has Deron Williams on his "All Rolls-Royce First Team. As John Supinie's headline read, No. 1 Illini continue to make their case.

Williams certainly put up All Rolls-Royce First Team stats last night. He filled the stat sheet with 11 points, 3 rebounds, 4 steals and a dozen assists. The career-high 12 assists raised his season average to 6.9, which is good enough for tenth in the nation. Weber is reportedly pleased with Williams' focus and the leadership he's providing to the team. Mark Tupper has more details about the coach and the player on his blog.

He wasn't the only one in an orange uniform filling the stat sheet last night. Four of the five Illini starters scored in double figures (and the fifth had nine) as they set a school record with 15 3-pointers. The Illini also had 26 assists on its 34 baskets.

All the local pundits recap the game. Tupper is here. Jeremy Rutherford here. Marlen Garcia here. Herb Gould here. Lindsey Willhite here.
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