Well, the home/road Jekyll and Hyde routine continues as the Illini looked very good once again on their home floor, save for the first few minutes when they trailed by as many as nine. As I've mentioned before, it's just something I'm going to have to get used to, as last year, the Illini seemed to execute to perfection regardless of where they were playing, except maybe Ann Arbor and the last few minutes in Columbus.
Today saw the (let's hope) arrival of Richard McBride, who didn't seem content to hang out on the perimiter and launch threes. He finished the game with 19 points on six fied goals, only three of which were from beyond the arc. I'm not gonna pour through the box scores, but this is the first time I can ever remember McBride getting more points from non-three point areas on the floor than from long range. He even went 4-4 from the free throw line. Really! Four free throws! From McBride!! Just let that sink in for a minute.
Dee played OK, throwing in 12 points, and struggling from the field a bit. But he did put together about a 15 second hilight reel during which he made a terrific move and scored on a circus shot, followed that up with a rebound at the other end, which he proceeded to took down the floor before lobbing a perfect pass to Randle for yet another alley-oop. That wasn't the only monster jam of the afternoon, as Randle added another, and Augustine made a steal up top that he turned into one of his patented break away jams. Dee also added nine assists against only two turnovers, while Augie grabbed 12 more boards, extending his record as Illinois' all time leading rebounder.
So this closes the soft part of the schedule, and the Illini took care of business. The next stetch gets a little tougher, starting with Tuesday night's tilt at Wisconsin. Win that game, and the Illini ove into the driver's seat for the conference championship. But not everyone can be North Dakota State. Wins at the Kohl center don't come easy (they come easier than wins at the Hall for road teams, but still...). Coming off of two fine performances at home against teams that aren't very good, Illini Nation will be fired up for Tuesday night.