Xavier Falls to No. 12 Ilinois, 65-62
Dec. 3, 2005
CHICAGO - Junior Justin Cage scored a team-high 15 points for Xavier, but it was not enough to knock off the 12th ranked Fighting Illini as the Musketeers dropped a hard-fought 65-62 decision on Saturday afternoon in front of a capacity crowd at the United Center. XU drops to 3-1 with the loss while the Illini remain unbeaten and move to 7-0 on the season.
XU had an opportunity to send the game into overtime, but a 3-point attempt from Stanley Burrell with three seconds to go in the game came up just short and the Illini controlled the rebound as time expired.
Illinois held its largest lead of the game with just under one minute to go in regulation as a put-back from Marcus Arnold gave the Illini a 62-55 advantage. Illinois made just 3-of-6 from the charity stripe in the last minute of the game while the Musketeers used a pair of free throws from Will Caudle, a floater from Dedrick Finn and a 3-pointer from Burrell to stay within striking distance.
Dee Brown opened up the second half with a pair of 3-point field goals to trim the XU lead to 36-32 and lead a 15-4 run over the first 7:29, which saw the Illini take its first lead of the contest at 41-40 off an old-fashioned 3-point play from James Augustine at 12:31. The senior tandem of Augustine and Brown combined to score the first 22 points of the second half for Illinois.
"I thought the first eight minutes of the second half we came unglued a little bit and the turnovers mounted against us," said head coach Sean Miller. "Late in the game, they really went inside and we had foul trouble. They (Illinois) are a good team and we are better now that we have played this game."
The second half featured five lead changes and two ties. Each team spent a lot of time at the charity stripe in the second stanza as XU was 7-of-13 (.538) while the Illini converted on 13-of-23 (.566).
XU was 24-of-50 (.480) from the field including 7-of-16 (.434) from long range. Illinois made 20-of-49 (.408) from the field and a 28 percent (6-of-21) clip from 3-point range. The Illini enjoyed a lopsided advantage from the charity stripe as Illinois had 31 attempts compared to just 13 for the Musketeers. Illinois converted on 19-of-31 (.613) from the line compared to 7-of-13 (.538). XU was whistled for 25 fouls while the Illini were called for just 15 fouls for the game.
The Musketeers were hampered by 15 turnovers for the game including some costly miscues at the beginning of second half. XU out-rebounded the Illini 33-to-31 and scored 32 points in the paint compared to 26 for Illinois.
XU placed four players in double-figures led by Cage's 15 points. Justin Doellman scored 12 points, 11 of which came in the first half. Burrell scored 11 points while Caudle chipped in with 10 points and five rebounds.
Illinois' dynamic duo of Augustine and Dee Brown led the way for the blue and orange as Augustine scored 23 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Brown pumped in 20 points to go with five rebounds and seven assists.
The Musketeers jumped all over the Fighting Illini early in the game as Xavier opened the contest with a 14-0 run over the first five minutes before Augustine was able to convert on one of his free throws to put Illinois on the scoreboard at 14:25.
The XU defense held the Illini without a field goal until 11:29 when Jamar Smith hit a wide-open 3-pointer to cut the Xavier lead to 10 points at 14-4. Prior to Smith's bucket, Illinois had misfired on its first nine shots from the floor.
Xavier increased its lead to 19-4 before Illinois went on an 11-3 run to close the gap to 22-15 at the 7:09 mark off of a dunk from Brian Randle. The Musketeers responded with a quick spurt of their own to take a 30-17 lead at 4:33. Both teams traded buckets to close the half and the Musketeers took a 36-26 lead into the locker room.
The Musketeers will return to the floor on Wednesday, Dec. 7, when Xavier plays host to Florida A&M. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. at Cintas Center.