Basketball looks to rebound from loss

 

 

By Jeff LaBelle

Trent Meacham and the Illinois men’s basketball team wanted a quicker turnaround this time around.

After Tuesday night’s 76-74 loss to undefeated Clemson – one that came down to the final minutes and ended on a possession in which Illinois failed to get off a shot – Saturday morning’s tip-off in Chicago couldn’t come soon enough.

Meacham said the Illini (6-1) are ready for Georgia (5-2) in the December to Remember Classic at the United Center. The three days of padding between games has been plenty.

“It’s one game, and it was a big game, but we’re looking forward to Georgia,” he said Thursday at practice. “We got to move on. We’ve got another big one Saturday. That’s what’s great about basketball – you don’t have to wait a week like football. After a loss, you just want to play the next day.”

On the final possession Tuesday, Demetri McCamey didn’t get off a shot with hands in his face after hitting a three pointer one minute earlier that brought Illinois within two. On the inbounds play, he failed to see guard Meacham open in the corner and instead passed it off to an equally as crowded Chester Frazier, who held the ball as time expired.

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“Once you see it in the film, (Trent) was open. I take that on me,” McCamey said. “It’s just going to make us better down the road.”

Forward Mike Davis insisted the loss can’t be pinned on the final possession and hoped the Illini had a chance to regain their stamina on Wednesday’s day off.

“It didn’t come down to the last play. It came down to the end of the game,” he said. “They scored eight of the last 10 possessions, so it was our fault. We didn’t play good defense, we got tired, so we’ve got to get our energy back.

“Down the stretch you could tell (we were tired),” he added. “Four of us were asking out of the game at the same time. We have to get our wind back up and come ready to play against the SEC tournament champions.”

Davis posted a career-high 28 points against Clemson to go with eight rebounds, but Georgia boasts a large frontcourt, and the slender forward said he won’t venture too far down the lane against them.

“I can’t fight them in the post,” he said. “It’s like me fighting against Caesar or something like that. I got to use my quickness to my advantage. I can’t get into a wrestling match.”

Centers Mike Tisdale and Richard Semrau will see most of Georgia’s two largest starters, Albert Jackson and Jeremy Price, whose combined listed weights tally 535 pounds. Semrau had a productive night on the boards the last time out with a career-high eight rebounds but Tisdale, who garnered MVP honors at the South Padre Island holiday tournament the week before, went scoreless and without a single rebound.

Georgia is led in scoring by freshman reserve forward Trey Thomkins at 14 points per game. Their go-to starter, forward Terrence Woodbury, hasn’t been shooting the ball well in Illinois head coach Bruce Weber’s estimation.

“They’re just kind of figuring themselves out,” Weber said.

The head coach said the matchup will be great for recruiting and getting the Illinois buzz circulating in Chicago.

“There’s no doubt. It’s huge,” Weber said. “We’ll have lots of kids there. It’s a big game in a lot of reasons.

“They’re a good team,” he added. “We can’t over look them.”