Who’s the top freshman now? McCamey makes a statement.

By Jeremy Werner

INDIANAPOLIS – After being snubbed from Big Ten postseason awards, Demetri McCamey played as if he had something to prove once again Friday night against Purdue.

McCamey outscored Big Ten Freshman of the Year and likely top-five NBA draft pick Eric Gordon with a career-high 33 points in a double-overtime loss at the Assembly Hall on Feb. 7. He did it again Friday night with the Illini’s season on the line, outshining Second-Team All-Big Ten freshman guard E’Twaun Moore with 26 points, prolonging Illinois’ season for at least one more day.

Whenever Illinois desperately needed a bucket, the freshman answered the call. He finished a perfect 6-of-6 from the three-point line. He sank 7 of 10 field goal attempts in the second half, including four three-pointers, to lead the Illini to an improbable upset against No. 2 seed Purdue.

“We needed someone to be special and Demetri was special,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said.

The game was a nightmare for Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year Chris Kramer. Whether it was McCamey drilling a three-pointer in his face, burning by him on a back screen for an open layup or whizzing a pass by his ear for a slashing Mike Davis, Kramer could not find a way to stop the dazzling freshman.

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“He was the player of the game,” Painter said of McCamey. “We lost this game because Demetri McCamey was special . He was the difference.”

While watching McCamey tonight, one couldn’t help but have visions of Deron Williams’ performance against Arizona in the 2005 Elite Eight. Shot after shot, McCamey looked just as unstoppable as the Illini legend and current NBA star.

“They say he’s baby D-Will,” senior Chris Hicks said. “You see flashes of greatness in him like I said with his ability to see the court and his ability to make big shots and not care if he makes or misses. You know, that’s what D-Will possesses and his game models him.”