Illinois falls short to undefeated Clemson



By Jeff LaBelle

Illinois had the ball, a timeout in pocket and 11.1 seconds to get off a final shot.

Trailing by two in the waning moments of Tuesday night’s Big Ten/ACC Challenge contest against undefeated Clemson, Illinois got the ball into the hands of guard Demetri McCamey, who was quickly double-teamed. He passed off to Chester Frazier, mid-drive in desperation, as Trent Meacham, the final outlet on the play, stood open in the corner. But time ran out and the buzzer sounded with the ball still in Frazier’s hands, dealing the Illini (6-1) their first loss of the season, 76-74.

“I thought Trent was wide open. I guess (Demetri) didn’t see him,” head coach Bruce Weber said. “Mentally I’m thinking, ‘We’ll call timeout if we don’t have anything.’ (But) with Trent wide open I’m not going to call timeout.”

Illinois head coach Bruce Weber said his team went for the three, and the win, because he didn’t think they would have won an overtime contest. He didn’t think Illinois had enough energy to stay with the Tigers and that Frazier, on a hobbled leg, couldn’t keep up his frenetic pace. Frazier had a career-best 12 assists in the loss.


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Illini experience first loss

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“It’s not the end of the world,” Weber said. “We’ve got a lot of games left.”

But he added, “It would have been nice.”

Mike Davis had the night, stat-wise, of his collegiate career – dunking and shooting over everyone. He scored 12 consecutive points to start the second half and finished the game with a career high 28 points on 12-19 shooting. And even though Davis didn’t admit to it, he added what appeared to be a split-second stare-down of the opposing bench after a thunderous slam dunk in the first half.

“Naw,” Davis denied. “I was just happy that I made a shot.

“It’s good for us to know we can play against a top team like Clemson,” he added.

After trailing by as many as five points twice in the final three minutes, Demetri McCamey, who finished with 20 points, hit a three pointer to bring Illinois within two, 72-74, with a minute remaining. Clemson called a timeout and on the inbounds play hit Trevor Booker down low to make it a two-possession game.

McCamey was fouled on the other end after two unsuccessful shot attempts and hit two free throws. Down by two, Illinois fouled Clemson with 11.1 seconds left, and Demontez Stitt iced it from the free-throw line. Clemson converted on eight of its final 10 possessions.

“I thought down the stretch we did the things we wanted to do,” Clemson coach Oliver Purnell said. “We thought it would come down to this. We talked about it before the game.”

Stitt, Clemson’s leading scorer with 18 points, said his team’s fast-paced offense led to wide open shots.

“When our team runs and our big men run,” Stitt said. “We’re gonna get a lot of open shots.”

After trailing by eight at halftime, Clemson went on a seven-point run to start the second half. Following Davis’ run, Clemson bounced back, and Terrence Oglesby brought Clemson within one after a three pointer and took the lead, 55-54, in the middle of Illinois longest dry spell of the night.

“We had some careless turnovers in that one stretch,” Weber said. “They’re a very good team, they know how to win and win on the road. They’ve done it. You got to give them a lot of credit.”

Big Ten/ACC Challenge Results

As the Big Ten/ACC Challenge wrapped up, the Big Ten won 3 games. Tuesday’s results are as follows:

Ohio State 73

at Miami 68

Iowa 55

at Boston College 57

Clemson 76

at Illinois 74

Duke 76

at Purdue 60

Virginia 56

at Minnesota 66