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Maniscalco Leads Illini to Comeback Victory Over Terrapins
Posted By Jason Patt On Nov 30 2011 @ 11:28 am In Illinois | No Comments
When fifth-year senior point guard Sam Maniscalco announced he was transferring to Illinois from Bradley for his final season, most fans figured he would add some toughness and leadership to a young team starving for those qualities. Not many could have predicted the profound impact he’s had on the Illini so far.
Maniscalco scored 24 points to help lead the Illini to a 71-62 road victory over the Maryland Terrapins on Day One of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Maniscalco scored 15 of his 24 points in the second half, including several big three-pointers and four free throws to seal the deal at the end.
The Illini shook off a rough start and a hot shooting night from Terrapins guard Terrell Stoglin (25 points) to move to 7-0. The win was coach Bruce Weber’s 200th at Illinois.
Illinois fell behind early as they struggled to connect from the outside. For the game, the Illini shot just 7-23 (30.4%) from deep. Maniscalco and junior guard Brandon Paul (17 points) helped keep Illinois in the game as they trailed by four at the half after trailing by as many as nine.
Trailing by four with just under 15 minutes to go, Paul connected on a layup and Maniscalco followed with a three to give Illinois their first lead of the game since Paul’s dunk put them up 2-0. The Illini would never relinquish the lead the rest of the game.
Free throw shooting would be key for Illinois down the stretch, as they would go a perfect 10-10 in the second half. They went 18-20 overall, a nice surprise for a team that has missed its fair share of clutch free throws over the years.
Back to Maniscalco, he is now averaging 13.3 points in 25.0 minutes this season. He’s knocking down 55% of his shots and 42% from deep. While the competition has not been great, I’m beginning to believe that he can be an effective player in the Big Ten.
While this Maryland team is nowhere near as talented as past team’s, any true road win for a young squad like Illinois is a good one. I was impressed by how they fought back after the tough start, and how they did not fold when Maryland pressured them late. It was a nice win, but there’s still plenty of room for improvement. Other observations:
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