Illini Wonk
Thursday, March 24, 2005
  Illini in the NCAA Elite 8
In a Sweet 16 match-up against the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, the Illinois Fighting Illini came away with a 77-63 win. The Illini are now in the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament and will play the Arizona for a trip to the Final Four.

The team shot 49.1 percent from the floor and all five starters scored in double figures. The Illini were led by Deron Williams and Dee Brown with 21 each (Williams added 8 assists). James Augustine had his third straight double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds. Roger Powell added 12 points and 9 rebounds and Luther Head 12 points and 6 assists.

Williams showed tonight why this will likely be his last year in college basketball. He ran the offense like a well-oiled machine while racking up 8 assists and got his 21 points on 8-12 shooting while only committing 3 turnovers. After taking a few swipes at Illinois fans, Gregg Doyel pays tribute to Williams and his beautiful game.

Brown showed why he was Sporting News' college basketball player of the year as he made big play after big play and provided the Illini with a lot of energy.

For the Associated Press, Nancy Armour wrote: it's tough enough stopping one of Illinois' standout guards when he's having a good night. Make it two, and that's just not a fair fight. In the New York Times, Joe Drape said the Illini showed what harmony in the backcourt is all about.

It was a good thing that all five starters performed well because the Illini got zero points in only 19 minutes from their bench. Illinois will need more out of these guys as they go further in the tournament.

For a "mid-major," UWM was a good team and even with their best player shooting 4-17, they refused to let Illinois get too comfortable in this game. The Panthers simply came up against a team that was too good for them. Were in not for a career scoring night from Joah Tucker, it likely would have been a blow-out.

The AP has a great photo gallery of the game. As for Bruce Pearl? The Associated press reported that Illinois fans booed him loudly and long when he was introduced.

Tomorrow, Illini Wonk will have more on this game and the Elite 8 match-up the Illini face on Saturday.
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