McCamey leads rout of Georgia at United Center


Mike Davis executes an alley-oop at the basketball game held at the United Center in Chicago against Georgia on Saturday. The Illini defeated the Bulldogs 76-42. Erica Magda

By Jeremy Werner

CHICAGO – Demetri McCamey came into the United Center on Saturday with something on his mind. No, it wasn’t that he failed to create a shot attempt in the final seconds of a 76-74 loss to Clemson. Rather, the Chicago native was swept up in the aura of the man who has a statue outside the Chicago Bulls’ stadium.

“M.J.,” McCamey said. “You’re thinking of (Michael Jordan) every time you step on. You just got to come and bring your best because you don’t want to let the stadium down.”

With Jordan in attendance, McCamey was the Illini’s best, scoring a team-high 19 points and dishing out six assists as Illinois defeated Georgia, 76-42. Illinois (7-1) finished the game on a 22-0 run and held Georgia scoreless for the final 7:23 of the game.

Sophomore Mike Davis, who scored 14 points, said it was important for the team to bounce back after suffering its first loss of the season last Tuesday.


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Illini stomp Bulldogs at United Center

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“We were down because we lost a game and let one slip away,” Davis said. “But we did want to get back on the court to prove to everyone that we’re a good team and that we can bounce back.”

Despite the lopsided final score, Georgia stayed in the game for the first 30 minutes, using its size advantage to outrebound the Illini, 34-26.

The Bulldogs hauled in 17 offensive rebounds and scored 16 second-chance points. Center Mike Tisdale recovered from a scoreless performance against Clemson by chipping in 14 points but struggled to hold his ground in the paint against Georgia, hauling in only two rebounds.

“I think a couple of them are related to C.J. (Jackson),” Tisdale quipped. “It’s hard to box out, especially when they’re a little bit bigger than you. But we have to focus on that because we can’t let teams hurt us by doing that.”

The Illini shot their way through their struggles on the glass, shooting 69 percent from the field in the second half. Illinois’ defense pestered the Bulldogs, limiting Georgia to a 35.3 percent field goal percentage. The Illini scored 29 points off Georgia’s 27 turnovers.

“They had obviously some post presence, some size,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “I thought that was maybe one of our keys. We really fought in the post, didn’t let it go in easy.”

Illinois made eight of its first 10 field goals, including 13 points from McCamey, to build an early 19-6 lead. But Illinois missed 10 of its next 11 field goals after Georgia switched to a 1-3-1 zone defense, cutting the Illini’s lead to 30-23 at halftime.

“I thought we tried to make tough plays in the first half against the zone, turned it over and maybe lost some confidence,” Weber said. “We talked about at halftime pushing it, attacking them, and I thought that first five minutes of the second half – which we struggled against Clemson – I thought we were a little bit better taking care of the ball, attacking and extending the lead and then put some doubt (in Georgia’s mind).”

Illinois will return home to finish off its grueling schedule of six games in 13 days, hosting Hawaii (3-2) on Monday and Chicago State (3-4) on Wednesday. The team will then have 10 days off for final exams.

The victory on Saturday marks Illinois’ second against BCS conference opponents – the Illini won at Vanderbilt on Nov. 20 – a stat Illinois knows will play a factor in their NCAA Tournament hopes.

“We talked about every game now in the non-conference is a NCAA game to be honest,” Weber said. “It’s kind of a little bracket. Every time you get a win, you’re moving on into the tournament … You’re really trying to gear up your resume.”