‘Saint’ Meacham leads Illini past Weber State



By Jason Grodsky

Junior guards Trent Meacham, Chester Frazier and the Illinois basketball team did a little home cooking on Saturday.

Playing in their first home game in three weeks following a five game road trip the Illini defeated Weber State 78-61 and displayed a much better shooting stoke from their previous game in Maryland.

Frazier finished the game with eight points and a team high of six assists and six rebounds, but it was the hometown kid who stole the show at the Assembly Hall.

Meacham led the way for the Illini, scoring a career-high 26 points off the bench, shooting 73 percent from the field (11-15), making four of eight three-pointers in the game.

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“I just want to be able to come in and help the team in whatever way I can,” Meacham said. “Chester and everyone did a great job of getting me the ball and screening for me. I feel I’m more confident than I was last year. I just feel more prepared and take what the defense gives me.”

The Champaign native nearly broke his former career high in the first half alone. Meacham put up 20 points in the first half, while the entire Weber State team had 22.

His previous career high had been 24 points against Florida A&M; last season in which he tied the school record with eight three-pointers in a game.

“I was just trying to get (Meacham) the ball,” Frazier said. “When he’s hot like that you want the ball in his hands.”

As a team, the Illini shot 50.8 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the three-point line. A big improvement from the 33 and 31 percent the Illini shot on Wednesday night in Maryland.

“It was a confidence boost for us,” Frazier said. “Being able to come back home and do this was big before we go up to Chicago and play another good team in Arizona.”

Freshman Mike Davis electrified the crowd at the Assembly Hall with a pair of dunks in the first half as a part of a 23-6 run by the Illini.

Davis received a technical foul for taunting following his second dunk, but finished the game with six points off the bench for the Illini.

Fellow freshman Mike Tisdale also added eight points as the Illini bench players outscored the Wildcats bench 53-33.

“We were in there getting more game experience and hopefully it will help us out more down the road,” Tisdale said. “This period right now is big for us to get all the kinks out and make improvements.”

Weber State made the final score look closer than the game actually was. The Wildcats went on a 22-3 run in the final 7:57 of the game while the Illini starters and key reserve players were on the bench.

“I was happy with how our guys kept fighting,” Weber State head coach Randy Rahe said. “Our kids stayed together and as far as our team is concerned we are going to build off that second half.”

“We have to find a good mixture,” Weber said. “You are obviously better when you play with older guys. But the freshman came in as stars on their teams and now they are just playing the final minutes of the game. They got on their heels and I started praying the clock ran out so they didn’t have to deal with it anymore.”