Weber escapes from Dr. Suess; Chester gets offensive against IU

Weber escapes from Dr. Suess; Chester gets offensive against IU

By Jeremy Werner

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Chester Frazier isn’t an offensive powerhouse, and opponents know it.

After getting romped by Illinois in the first half, Indiana switched defensive schemes, backing off Frazier as if daring the Illinois senior guard to shoot.

Frazier took the challenge and delivered for the Illini. He scored seven points in the second half, highlighted by a three-pointer that halted an Indiana surge with 4:56 left and all but ensured an Illini victory.

“I’m no offensive hero,” Frazier said. “I took what they gave me. They gave me open shots.”

Frazier, who saw a similar defensive scheme against Purdue two seasons ago, finished with nine points, seven rebounds and seven assists.

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    “He took it as a challenge when they didn’t guard him,” Weber said. “He got a little shook, but he played like a senior. He’s done it all year. He’s been our heart and soul.

    “No one tries harder, no one plays harder, no one’s fought through more injuries than him. When good things happen to him, it just makes me feel good.”

    Illini, Hoosier rivalry reignited

    For proof that Illinois and Indiana are true rivals, check out the attendance figures.

    Illinois had its first sellout of the season when the Hoosiers visited the Assembly Hall on Jan. 10. Hoosier fans, witnessing the worst season in Indiana history, filled their own version of Assembly Hall for the first time this season on Sunday with the Illini in town.

    “The crowd was phenomenal. I mean phenomenal,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said after a 65-52 Illini win. “To be sold out, to have this record, to have this kind of spirit in the crowd, they brought even more out in us. It was a great thing.”

    Don’t mistake it for a friendly rivalry, however. Hoosier fans tossed their verbal assaults mostly in the direction of Illinois head coach Bruce Weber.

    The Indiana student section repeated chants of “Shut up, Weber!”, “Weber sucks!” and “Eric Gordon,” referring to the one-time Illinois verbal commit who ended up with Indiana for a season before going to the NBA.

    One Indiana student, dressed in a “Thing 1” costume from the Dr. Seuss book “Cat in the Hat,” was reprimanded by security after getting within a foot of Weber as the Illinois coach entered the court minutes before tip-off. The student was allowed back to his seat.

    “I thought the crowd was good, nothing out of the ordinary,” Weber said. “I give kudos to the fans here to sell this place out and continue to support the team. It’s just amazing to me, to be honest.

    “That’s what you need. True fans are there win or lose.

    “They are truly showing a special face to support these guys.”

    Illinois rises in polls

    Illinois (21-5, 9-4 Big Ten) moved up four spots to No. 18 in the Associated Press poll following two road wins at Northwestern and at Indiana last week. The Illini have now been in the Top 25 for five weeks straight.

    Illinois also climbed four spots to No. 16 in the ESPN/USA Today coaches’ poll. The Illini rank No. 15 in the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI), which is used by the NCAA to supplement the selection of at-large teams and the seeding of all teams for the NCAA Tournament.

    Quick Hits

    Illinois had a season-high 10 blocks Sunday … Mike Davis recorded his seventh double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 rebounds … Demetri McCamey, suffering from an illness, scored just two points at Indiana after scoring a team-high 21 at Northwestern last Thursday … Alex Legion scored seven points, the sophomore’s highest point total in seven games, in seven minutes of playing time.

    Home sweet home?

    Tickets are still available for Illini home games against Penn State on Wednesday, Feb. 18, and Minnesota on Thursday, Feb. 26. All the tickets are in the C section and about 1,500 remain for the game against the Nittany Lions, while about 1,100 are left for the contest against the Golden Gophers. Illinois is alone in second place in the Big Ten, two games behind league-leader Michigan State in the loss column.

    “It would mean so much to our program to have those games sell out,” head coach Bruce Weber said in a press release. “Our players feed off the Assembly Hall atmosphere and that energy starts with the fans.”