Davis, McCamey work hard for starting roles in defensive victory



By Jeremy Werner

Mike Davis sat down with his father and made a list of goals before the start of the season. Goal one for the 6-foot-9 sophomore was to be a starter. Check.

Goal two was to average 12 points and eight rebounds. Davis exceeded those numbers Sunday, setting career highs with 20 points and 14 rebounds in Illinois’ 72-53 victory over Texas A&M-Corpus; Christi at Assembly Hall.

It was the first double-double of Davis’ career, and he did it all in front of Chicago Bulls rookie Derrick Rose and NBA legend Michael Jordan, father of sophomore guard Jeff Jordan.

Davis was unaware of Michael Jordan’s presence but said knowing the six-time NBA champion was sitting in the northwest corner of Assembly Hall wouldn’t have phased him.

“It doesn’t matter,” Davis said. “I’ve met Jeff’s dad before. He’s a cool guy. It doesn’t really matter.”

The Illini defense stifled the Islanders, forcing 18 turnovers and limiting TAMCC to a 33.3 percent field goal percentage. The Islanders went scoreless for a 10:05 stretch in the first half. The effective defense helped Illinois overcome an early 8-3 deficit, as the Illini rattled off a 23-2 run to finish the first half with a 28-12 lead.


photo DI multimedia


Illinois take 72-53 victory

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photo DI multimedia


Illini win season opener

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The Illini struggled from the field in the first half, shooting 35.5 percent. But the Illini offense improved to 51.6 percent in the second half, relying less on outside shots. Illinois had 22 assists on 27 field goals for the game.

“I thought the last 13 or 15 minutes of the first half, our players played as hard as any team I’ve ever been associated with in that stretch,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “It was probably as good of defense too. It seemed like we were everywhere, and that’s kind of what we preached in this early go.”

Trent Meacham scored 14 points, sparking the Illini run with 11 points in the first half. Meacham made three of five three-point attempts. Demetri McCamey was not in the starting lineup for the second straight game but scored 13 points off the bench.

Weber said the sophomore point guard needs better practice habits to earn a starting spot but that McCamey showed “major improvement” in his effort in Sunday’s game.

Filip Toncinic and Kevin Palmer each scored 10 points to lead the Islanders (1-1).

The matchup with the Islanders was the first of four games Illinois will play as part of the South Padre Island Invitational. The Illini will host Jackson State on Nov. 23 at the Assembly Hall as part of the tournament before traveling to South Padre Island, Texas, during Thanksgiving weekend to play Kent State on Nov. 28 and Texas A&M; or Tulsa on Nov. 29. The Illini won their only other appearance in the tournament in November 2005.

The Illini move to 2-0 after defeating Eastern Washington 66-50 on Friday. Illinois will receive its first big challenge as it travels to Nashville, Tenn., to play SEC opponent Vanderbilt on Thursday.

Weber said Davis, like McCamey, has to show consistent effort to reach his full potential and match his Sunday performance on a consistent basis.

“I don’t think my spot’s solidified yet,” Davis said. “I still have to do the little things. I got to show up definitely on Thursday night; it’s a big game. I just got to keep being consistent like coach says and keep doing the little things.”