Illini Wonk
Monday, December 05, 2005
  Smith leads Illinois in rout
He's so good, he only missed two shots while racking up 23 points. He's so new, that CBS apparently can't find a mug shot (paging the Illini Sports Information Department...Kent?). That's true freshman Jamar Smith, who nearly trippled his season scoring average and led the Illinois Fighting Illini to a 75-49 win over Arkansas-Little Rock.

The Illini seniors were overshadowed by the freshman, but still had good nights. Dee Brown did everything but score, grabbing five rebounds and dropping ten dimes (many of those on dishes to Smith). James Augustine had 12 points and 7 rebounds.

But it was Smith off the bench who stole the show, going 6 for 8 on three-pointers. He was shooting with so much confidence and getting off shots so quickly. Once the ball left his hand, you just knew it was going in. He gave us a glimpse of what he was capable of when he led the team against Illinois Wesleyan, but tonight he showed it all. The drive to the basket that he finished with the left hand and the mid-range jumper he hit were almost as impressive as the six threes. Through the first eight games of his career, Smith is 21 for 38 (55 percent) from behind the arc. In addition to scoring, Mark Tupper said Smith also played pretty solid defense, made some sweet passes and seemed to get his team cranked up as well.

After a shaky first half that saw the Illini carry a four point lead into the locker room, they came out firing in the second. Smith had seven points and an assist during a 20-0 run that put the game out of reach and gave Illinois their 25th straight home victory.

The Illini did some things well. They took care of the ball, committing only 11 turnovers. They played solid defense, holding the Trojans to 35.8 percent shooting and under 50 points. However, Illinois continues to struggle from the charity stripe where they shot 57 percent.

Dan O'Brien posted some photos at Illinois Loyalty.
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