Is slobber-knocker even a word?
I don't know, but that's how I would describe tonight's Big Ten opener in West Lafayette, Ind. There was a lot of tough, physical defense being played in this game. And the Illini pulled through in overtime, upsetting the No. 9 Boilermakers 71-67.
As an Illinois fan, it was nice to see some other team miss critical free throws for a change. Purdue finished the evening 15-for-27 from the line, included a huge miss by JaJuan Johnson with 1.9 seconds left in regulation that would have won the game for the Boilers.
Meanwhile, the Illini sunk 10 of their 13 foul shots, including six in the final minute of the extra session. Demetri McCamey missed his first three attempts of the night, but he was 4-for-4 when it mattered most. Trent Meacham also knocked in a couple to help ice the win.
The Illini received a strong effort from sophomore center Mike Tisdale (pictured). He finished with 18 points and six rebounds before fouling out with 2:05 left in regulation. Tisdale needs to do a better job of avoiding silly fouls, but he is showing a nice touch around the basket.
Alex Legion, in just his fourth game since regaining eligibility, also came up big for Illinois. He contributed 12 points off the bench on 5-for-11 shooting.
The Illini are now 13-1 on the year and face another road game against a strong opponent on Sunday, when they travel to Ann Arbor to face No. 23 Michigan.
Excellent performance tonight against a high-quality opponent and a huge win for Bruce Weber and the program.