After reaching as high as sharer of first place in the Big Ten standings, the Illini let it diminish in any attempt of landing a Big Ten title.
After streaking on one of their best stretches this season, the Illini lost for the first time in six games. It was done in blowout fashion. The vocal leader for the Illini Demetri McCamey played one of his toughest games of his career trying to contain the electrifying Evan Turner and produce offense.
Despite the lopsided rebounding efforts the Illini was unable to slow down the Buckeyes’ offense. The Buckeyes’ shot 53 percent from the field and 50 percent from three.
But I’m here to tell you that you don’t need to panic. The Illini played a great Ohio State Buckeyes’ team that has a player of the year candidate on their roster, with the addition of Jon Diebler’s hot shooting.
But now they’re on the road at No. 4 Purdue and have a chance to make a statement in the Big Ten.
Early on Illinois’ offense was very crisp, had great ball movement, and worked to get open shots. The Illini rode a (7-0) run and jumped out to an early (11-4) lead before the first timeout was called. In the first half McCamey accounted for 23 of the 35 points scored in the first half. Highlighted by Demetri McCamey’s 11 first half assist.
But they still had a whole half to play. After leading throughout most of the first half Illinois gave up the lead in the second half lead by a (10-3) Purdue run. That didn’t stop the Illini from answering. In the second half it was a see-saw match-up with tons of lead changes.
In the second half turnovers was the key and Purdue didn’t have any. Purdue stepped up their defensive intensity in the second half and forced the Illini into six turnovers. Purdue had a +13 thirteen swing in second chance points and snatched down 12 offensive rebounds.
This loss puts the Fighting Illini at (17-10) overall and (9-5) in Big Ten play opening up a cushion for Big Ten leading Michigan State.
Despite the loss Illinois guard Demetri McCamey came out with an historic effort. McCamey dished out the rock 16 times this game, becoming only the third player to do so, and broke an Illinois team record.
Mike Davis also chipped in the illini efforts of pulling off an upset with 16 points, 11 rebounds, and 5 blocks.
This ends the streak of ranked opponents. After playing four straight ranked opponents the Illini came out of that stretch (2-2) highlighted by their big win at then No. 13 Wisconsin.
The Illini are now pushed down the Big Ten standings and as of now the title looks to be out of reach. The illini are now looking towards the Big Ten championship, and the NCAA Tournament.
The Fighting Illini is at action next on the road at Michigan on February 23 at 4 PM ET.