As described at SBN's Gonzaga Bulldogs blog The Slipper Still Fits in an interview with SBN's Illinois blog Hail to the Orange, Illinois fans still harbor ill will about last January's 85-83 overtime loss at the United Center.
Know your enemy: A few good questions with Hail to the Orange - The Slipper Still Fits
I know that I have been, at the very least, and if anyone on the Illini felt raw about last year's loss it would be Demetri. He is from Chicago, and takes the games he plays at the United Center very seriously, because of what it means to every Chicago kid. I think he felt that he had a great performance last year that was overshadowed by defensive lapses, and he wants badly to get one back. All of that is fine with me, because I always prefer him motivated over uninterested.
And if McCamey continues the way he has been this season, he could give Gonzaga some trouble.
Illinois players to watch:
Demetri McCamey, G (6-foot-3, 200 lbs, Sr.)
Most notable to some about McCamey might be that he's both the team's leading scorer and most efficient scorer from the guard spot and thus far this season it's hard to look too far past his 51.6 percent 3-point shooting as a major reason why he's been such a strong offensive threat for his team. However even more impressive has been his efficiency as a distributor - he's creating an assist for his teammates on just over 35 percent of his possessions while turning it over on only 10 percent. Those are absolutely outstanding numbers and he will give Gonzaga guard some trouble.
Mike Tisdale, C (7-foot-1, 250 lbs., Sr.)
While McCamey does all the things that will make him a focal point of this game, Tisdale has been doing the dirty work on the interior on both ends of the court. He's averaging nearly two blocks per game and has been an outstanding offensive rebounder as well. And shooting 57 percent from the field doesn't hurt either.
Key statistical battle ground: shooting efficiency
Where the Fighting Illini have been strongest relative to opponents is undoubtedly their shooting efficiency and with Tisdale in the post and McCamey shooting the way he is, it's easy to understand why that is. But on the strength of McCamey's 3-point shooting, the team is shooting nearly 40 percent from beyond the arc, which undoubtedly makes them difficult to defend.