Illini Wonk
Sunday, January 09, 2005
  Winning in many ways
The Illini basketball team earned its 16th straight win of the season yesterday by beating Purdue 68-59 in West Lafayette. This was the first game Illini Wonk has seen the Illini play since the Braggin' Rights game against Missouri on December 22 (although the first five minutes were missed due to the UCONN/Tennessee women's basketball game) and IW came away impressed.

After trailing at the half for the first time this season, the Illini dominated the Boilermakers with stifling defense and hot shooting. I was especially impressed with the play of the celebrated guard trio after the intermission. As the Illini were opening the second half with a 23-6 run, Dee Brown and Luther Head were draining three-pointers and Deron Williams had a couple of great assists, especially the feed to Roger Powell, Jr. who dunked to give Illinois their first lead of the second half at 43-41. From there, the Illini never looked back en route to a solid road win in the Big Ten.

The consensus among many is that the Illini didn't have a good first half. While that is true to a point, IW thinks it had just as much to do with Purdue being up for this game and wanting to defend their home court. Purdue's season has been pretty miserable to this point and knocking off #1 would have been a huge boost. Marlen Garcia of the Chicago Tribune talks about the Boilermaker performance here.

At the midseason point, Illini Wonk has a few random thoughts about this Illinois basketball team:

For those of you who have been following the Illini for years or maybe just for this season, please use the comments section of this post and share your thoughts with the rest of us.

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