Illinois shocks Purdue in overtime



By Jason Grodsky

INDIANAPOLIS – Illinois is continuing to prove that it’s hard to beat a team three times.

After beating Penn State in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament, the Illini followed Thursday’s performance with another upset, this time the victim was second-seed Purdue. Illinois had lost to both teams twice already this season.

The Illini overcame a five-point deficit in the final minute to force overtime against Purdue and completed the comeback against the Boilermakers in overtime, capturing a 74-67 victory in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis.


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Illini upset Purdue

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Freshman guard Demetri McCamey scored a game-high 26 points and drained a long three-pointer from the top of the key with 18 seconds remaining in regulation to force the extra period.

“We had a game plan coming in and we just came out with high intensity and made big plays,” McCamey said. “Coach (Weber) told us that someone needed to step and fortunately I was that player, but my teammates helped me out a lot and found me when I was open.”

In the team’s fourth overtime game of the season, the Illini rookies played like they were the veterans of the team. McCamey and fellow freshman Mike Davis combined to score eight of the Illini’s 11 points in overtime and give Illinois its first victory in overtime this season.

Davis finished with 10 points, while Jordan and junior Calvin Brock and also added four and eight points, respectively, to give Illinois a 22-8 advantage in bench points.

“They just told us to go in and play with confidence and make open shots and that’s what we we’re able to do,” Davis said. “We just wanted to go out and match what they we’re doing and we ended up making some plays.”

Facing one of the country’s stingiest defensive teams led by conference steals leader and defensive player of the year Chris Kramer, the No. 10-seeded Illini (15-18) turned the ball over a season high 23 times but recovered by shooting 61.2 percent from the field.

Second-seeded Purdue (24-8) shot 44 percent from three-point range, making 11. For the third time this season, Purdue freshman E’Twaun Moore hurt the Illini, scoring 22 points to lead the Boilermakers (25-7), but McCamey proved he was the better freshman on the court, going 6-for-6 from three-point range.

“I was just feeling good out there,” McCamey said. “I made my first shot of the game and then took another as sort of a heat-check and they kept going in.”

Seniors Shaun Pruitt and Brian Randle also added 14 and nine points, respectively, and Pruitt collected a team-high nine rebounds as Illinois outscored Purdue 36-18 in points in the paint.

Illinois overcame a 15-0 run by Purdue in the first half to tie the game 28-28 at halftime in large part to the play of the four freshmen, who along with junior Chester Frazier played most of the second part of the first half while the team’s veterans were forced to sit with foul trouble.

“There is no doubt the freshmen were the key to the game,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “The (Purdue) freshmen have been great all year, but our four freshmen (McCamey, Davis, Jeff Jordan and Mike Tisdale) got us back into the game.”

It’s the tenth time in the tournament’s 11-year history that the Illini have advanced to the semifinals and the first win against a ranked team since a victory over then-No.23 Indiana on Jan. 23, 2007.

Illinois will face the winner Minnesota tomorrow in the semifinals after the Golden Gophers defeated Indiana 59-58. Incidentally, Minnesota is the only team Illinois has beaten twice this season.