Illini Wonk
Wednesday, February 16, 2005
  Illini go on Safari
The Illinois Fighting Illini go into the Bryce Jordan Center tonight to hunt the Nittany Lions of Penn State. The Illini have won five in a row in the series and nine of the last ten. Last year's game at University Park provided this viewer with one of the most memorable moments of Dee Brown's career in the orange and blue. The Illini trailed the Nittany Lions at the mid-point of the second half when Brown went on a tear and scored 19 points over the last 12 minutes. He may have missed a shot, Illini Wonk can't remember it. What he can remember are off-balance, game-saving, long-range bombs that didn't touch the rim on their way through the net. Brown was 6-10 on three-pointers in the game and finished with 24 points.

This year, the Nittany Lions are 7-16 (1-9) and have little from this season that they'd like to remember. This game against the undefeated Illini may provide their last chance to salvage something, anything, from the year. Penn State Coach Ed DeChellis states the obvious, saying not going to be easy. Wings Over Happy Valley, a local restaurant, seems to be so certain of an Illini win that they are offering seven jumbo wings plus celery and bleu cheese to every fan who attends the Illinois game if the Penn State Nittany Lions pull this off. I don't know too many business-people who would gamble with $20,000 if they weren't fairly certain it would turn out their way.

The Illini are for their part sounding the proper cliches, insisting that they aren't overlooking this conference bottom-dweller on their unblemished march through the season. Mark Tupper has the proof here, but if you want to see them say it for yourself, check out the video "Illini not looking past Lions" here. Brown insists that These-type games are what I get pumped for.

Illinois game notes here. The Associated Press also has a preview.
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