BLOOMINGTON — There’s this team I cover, and they do the damndest stuff.
See, they lose to a team that is, statistically, one of the worst they’ll play this season. Lose, hell, they get walked on, tooled against the worst team in their conference.
And then they come home, lick their wounds, and beat one of the three most-disliked opponents on their schedule. And they pick up their first win over a ranked team in about 35 months.
They take this crew that’s probably going to the NCAA Tournament and they work them over. Jeremiah Rivers, the team’s lone senior, goes absolutely lockdown on one of the Big Ten’s best point guards, forcing a young man that had made beating Indiana his own personal sport in the past to look remarkably mediocre.
Demetri McCamey was an Indiana killer, the kind who played like a guy with a giant chip on his shoulder against the team that he once might have joined. He scored 31 points against them in a loss his freshman year, and 19 in each contest – including a game-winner in Champaign – last season.
Thursday night, Jeremiah Rivers shut him down. I believe the phrase is “beat him like he stole something,” proverbially speaking, of course. McCamey finished with six points and five turnovers, and was absolutely absent when his team needed him most.
“He’s their catalyst, so he makes them go,” said Christian Watford, who finished with 16 points. “And when he’s not going, they all look a little stagnant.”
There’s evidence to support that theory. For the game, Indiana allowed just one Illinois player – forward Mike Davis – to score in double figures, after letting four Iowa Hawkeyes into double digits five days prior.
Tom Pritchard (Tom Pritchard!) hit a game-winning shot. Let that sink in, and I believe you’ll begin coming around to my point.
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