Illini Wonk
Saturday, February 12, 2005
  Illini down last ranked foe
Ignoring the advice of John Mutka, the Illinois Fighting Illini completed the season sweep of the Wisconsin Badgers with a 70-59 win before a record Assembly Hall crowd. The victory pushed the Illini's record to 25-0 (11-0), which ties a school record and marks their sixth win against a top-25 opponent.

After a plodding first half that saw the Illini take a one point lead into the locker room, the Illini trio of guards came out blazing in the second half. Deron Williams scored the first 8 points of the second half, followed by 8 points from Luther Head and it was late free-throws from Head and three-pointers from Dee Brown that sealed the win. The 57 points scored by the trio almost matched the entire Badger team. Jonathan Linder of BadgerNation called the Guard trio unstoppable against Badgers.

Luther Head employed a spectacular mid-range game to post an impressive stat-line of 26-points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists (he was also 12-13 from the free-throw line). His point total is even more impressive in light of the fact that none of the points came from behind the arc-his first game this season without a three-pointer.

Alando Tucker was the only Badger in double-figures and he had an impressive 24 points to go with 8 rebounds. The lack of success from the other Wisconsin players was mostly a result of another impressive defensive performance from the Fighting Illini. The Badgers were the third-straight opponent of the Illini held under 60 points and the 13th straight under 70. Only three opponents have broken the 70-point mark against Illinois this season.

New York Times reporter Pete Thamel hung around Champaign after his profile of Bruce Weber to write a recap of the game. The report from Marlen Garcia of the Chicago Tribune can be read here.

Greg Doyel was in Champaign and gives some suggestions for what the Illini should do during the next month here. After saying they need to stay angry, stay together and stay agressive (and some other suggestions) he ends with this final piece of advice: Stick with what got you here: Why are you listening to us, Illini? You're 25-0, and regardless of what Brown says, you're far and away the best team in the country. Anyone who says otherwise can't be taken seriously. Tell them we said so. Just keep doing what you're doing. (But don't say you weren't warned.)

Sports Illustrated has the AP story here. Following the game, Mark Tupper blogs under the headline unbeaten better than a loss that 41 percent of teams who enter the NCAA tournament have won it all, while only 11 percent of those who had one loss could say the same.
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