7:40 PM: Welcome back to the cozy, cozy Ass. Hall, in Champaign-Urbana Illinois! The prairie is covered in snow, and the Illini are taking to the court! Happy Holidays all, and hopefully we’ll have a great game to start the Big Ten season, one that will need to spell redemption for the Illini, or trouble could ensue…
Coming into this season, you could have said, “Hey Paul, one of these teams is going to be ranked coming into this game,” and I’d have replied, “Duh.” Of course, I’d have been talking about the Illini, but still…what a feat for Northwestern this season. One of the Big Ten’s best players goes down in Kevin Coble, and they not only continue to press forward, but you might even say they get BETTER! It’s a remarkable story that’s hard to hate…except I still hate those purple weenies. We’ll see if the Illini can put them in their place in 20 minutes or so…(PS)
8:03 PM – Still waiting for the game to start…getting going a little late. However, I can say that Brandon Paul is mohawk-less. An interesting development…(PS)
Northwestern 12, Illinois 4, 16:30 1H: Uhhh….Northwestern is 4-4 from three point range. You have to figure that that won’t hold…but it is worrisome. I’m hearing “Rar Rar Rar”‘s in my head…(PS)
Northwestern 14, Illinois 10, 15:15 1H: Well, Illinois has weathered the early storm, and at least they aren’t down more. As long as they can hang close, for now, we’ll be in good shape. (PS)
Illinois 14, Northwestern 14 12:46 1H: Tie game, and the Illini have made a nice little run to get to the tie. After making their first 4 threes, the Wildcats have missed three in a row — notable, because it has been because of solid Illini perimeter defense. They’ve looked good closing out on the open man, and if that continues the rest of the year the Illini will be significantly better. (PS)
Illinois 16, Northwestern 15 11:07 1H: And the Illini have their first lead of the game! Nifty little drive-and-scoop from D.J. Richardson (heeyyyyyy! DJ’s here!), and the Illini have overcome a slow start and poor shooting to take the lead. John Shurna still leads NU with 8 points, but along with the rest of the Purple Weenies, has gone cold. (PS)
Illinois 18, Northwestern 18 10:30 1H: NU finally hit a three after six straight misses, and then Illinois’ Mike Tisdale makes a great post move, gets a GREAT dish from Jeff Jordan, and throws down a big two-handed jam. Tisdale has 10 of the Illini’s 18 points, so we’re obviously seeing asserive, good Mike Tisdale as opposed to whiny, shrinking-away Mike Tisdale…(PS)
Northwestern 30, Illinois 27 4:01 1H: Norhtwestern is RAINING threes…Shurna just completed a four-point play as well as hitting the Wildcats’ eighth three. Good freaking lord…there’s the ninth. I’m saying the same things Wayne Larrivee is saying…these developments are not good for my sanity. Northwestern is now on a 12-6 run and has opened up a 4 points lead. (PS)
Northwestern 42, Illinois 33 HALF: UGH. Just an unreal first half. 15 points for Shurna, plus 4 threes. A total of 11 in the first half for the Wildcats, which is impressive because that puts them on pace to break the Big Ten record that they set earlier this season. Still, I can’t fathom that they will keep shooting at an 11-23 clip (SERIOUSLY??!!! 11-23??), but…man. Still, Illinois was down 14 in Evanston and the Illini rallied to win in something like 20 seconds, so being down nine should be no problem.
11 for 23. Yikes. Seriously, the Rar Rar Rar’s can’t keep this up, right? (PS)
Northwestern 50, Illinois 47 14:30 2H: YOOGE YOOGE YOOOOOOGE three from DJ Richardson cuts the Rar Rar’s lead to just three. They’re still raining threes, because it’s what they do, but they have cooled some.
Mike Davis just missed a GIANT thunder dunk that would have absolutely brought the house down and ABSOLUTELY been one of the top 5 dunks of 2009. I thought he was going to break the backboard. Unfortunately he just ends up lucky he didn’t break his wrists on the back of the rim…(PS)
Northwestern 57, Illinois 56, 10:40 2H: Brandon Paul!!! Back-to-back threes gave the Illini a brief one-point lead before John Shurna and Michael Thompson did a sweet little give-and-go on the next possession to give the Rar Rar’s a one point lead back. Then Mike Tisdale went all thug-style and dropped The People’s Elbow on Thompson’s throat. There’s a way you could look at that that it was pretty uncalled for. You could certainly look at it that way…(PS)
Illinois 58, Northwestern 57, 8:04 2H: Illinois leads on 2 Mike Davis free throws…(PS)
Illinois 60, Northwestern 60, 5:52 2H: Second straight double-double for Mike Tisdale, who now has a season high in points with 21 on 9-of-12 shooting from the field. He’s having a helluva game, and if he can continue to play like this he provides an additional reliable scoring option for the Illini. (PS)
Illinois 67, Northwestern 63, 4:05 2H: BILLY COLE!! He’s as black as the ace of spades!!! What a big three from the corner. I really was never a fan Billy…but you’ve converted me. You’ve converted me, Billy! (PS)
Illinois 69, Northwestern 63, 3:36 left 2H: Words I never thought I would type: Mike Tisdale, team leader. Yes Mike, it’s true: Your table is ready. (PS)
Illinois 69, Northwestern 67, 1:54 left 2H: This isn’t necessarily in relation to anything that is happening on the court, but this is where having a really good, ball-handling PG would be really….really nice. (PS)
Illinois 72, Northwestern 72, :44.8 left 2H: A rushed shot by, guess who, D.J. Richardson, allows Northwestern to come down and get a nice bucket by John Shurna to tie the game. Free throws for Tisdale to give him a career high upcoming. (PS)
Illinois 74, Northwestern 72, :31.8 left 2H: Career high for Tis, 27 points, 11 boards. Wow. Illini by two, do they hold for the last shot??? (PS)
Illinois 74, Northwestern 74, :15.4 left 2H: No, they don’t. John Shurna gets a WIDE open three…and misses, but the Croatian-Slovak dude who looks like he is wearing eyeliner and it is running missed one tip-in attempt but hit a second.
And yes…I know his name. And no…I don’t want to try and spell it. Time out Illini…one shot I would imagine for them. Maybe two if they get a tip-in try. (PS)
Illinois 74, Northwestern 74, OVERTIME: Just a colossally bad possession. The Illini waste 8 seconds to see the defensive set, then, with 7.7 seconds left, inbounds the ball inexplicably A) to the opposite free throw line, 75 feet from the hoop, and B) to D.J. Richardson. I’ll let you guess how that turned out, but I’ll sum up your guess by saying I thought the long three after the steal was going in…(PS)
Illinois 76, Northwestern 74 4:20 left OT: MIKE…..DAVIS! (PS)
Illinois 78, Northwestern 77 3:30 left OT: Mike TISSSSSDALE with a nice put back, and then a GIANT three from the freshman Drew Crawford to keep the Rar Rar’s in it.
Illinois 80, Northwestern 77 2:41 left OT: NIFTY move by Mike Davis. This Illinois team is showing a TON of heart right now. (PS)
Illinois 82, Northwestern 80 2:27 left OT: Tisdale fouls out with 31 and 12 on one of the most ticky-tack fouls I’ve ever seen. It was a fingertip. No body whatsoever. Wow. Just a terrible break for the Illini, and John Shurna completes a three point play to again make it a game. (PS)
Illinois 86, Northwestern 82 1:01 left OT: Wow Jeremy Nash…that was a really awful bail-out foul. If the Rar Rar’s lose…you’ve got your goat.(PS)
Illinois 86, Northwestern 83 :38.8 left OT: Remember when I said that it would be really nice to have a clutch ball-handling PG for a situation like this? Illinois was in control with a three point lead and the ball and couldn’t get the ball up court, and Bill Cole turned it over. Good thing the Rar Rar’s can’t shoot threes…oh, wait…(PS)
Illinois 87, Northwestern 83, :24.8 left OT: Billy Cole, with some redemption. GREAT block out on John Shurna, and hits one of the two free throws to make it a two possession game…(PS)
Illinois 89, Northwestern 83, :09.5 left OT: Brandon Paul hits two free throws, and pretty much seals the game. Nice airballed three by the ‘Cats gave away their chance. (PS)
Illinois 89, Northwestern 83, FINAL: Well, it took an extra frame, but the Illini get a huge, much-needed win, and Northwestern goes 0-for-the decade against Illinois. Momentum, thy name is Illinois?? (PS)Follow paulmbanks