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updated: 11/19/2010 10:53 PM

No. 13 Illinois escapes with 3rd-place win

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  • Illinois' Demetri McCamey (32) drives past Maryland's Haukur Palsson (13) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the 2K Sports Classic tournament Friday.

      Illinois' Demetri McCamey (32) drives past Maryland's Haukur Palsson (13) in the first half of an NCAA college basketball game at the 2K Sports Classic tournament Friday.
    Associated Press

 
Associated Press

NEW YORK -- Illinois was thinking about last season and the Illini didn't want the same thing to happen to them that might have cost them a berth in the NCAA Tournament.

The Illini rebounded from an overtime semifinal loss to Texas with an 80-76 victory over Maryland in the third-place game Friday in the 2K Sports Classic.

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Unlike last year when the Illini allowed 1 loss in an early season tournament turn into 2, they were more patient on offense and more effective from long range.

"A year ago we were in this situation, losing a disappointing game in Vegas, and don't respond well the next night," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "We had a very, very short turnaround. We didn't get back to the hotel until 1 last night. ... It was a mental toughness thing. They responded."

Demetri McCamey, D.J. Richardson and Tyler Griffey all hit three 3-pointers and the Illini, who came into the game shooting 34.5 percent from 3-point range, finished 10-for-19 (52.6 percent) from behind the arc.

"Last year we lost to Utah and Bradley and it came to haunt us down the stretch, so we just wanted to split them and at the same time get better as a team," McCamey said. "... Our main focus coming into the tournament was to determine what kind of team we are.

"You've got to bounce back the next day and get better, and I think last year we shut down and was mad about the first game and we lost."

He was quick to explain the difference in the Illini in the short turnaround.

"Last night was more dribbling, iso, 1-on-1, doing some things we usually don't do, and it hurt us against Texas," he said. "Tonight we moved the ball."

McCamey finished with 20 points and 7 assists, while Richardson and Griffey both had 9 points, all on 3-pointers.

Illinois went up by as many as 12 points 69-57 with 5:35 left. But Maryland (3-2) was able to get as close as 78-76 with 7.3 seconds left on a 3 by Terrell Stoglin. The Illini missed 4 straight free throws and 5 of 8 from the 1:13 mark until Brandon Paul made 2 with 6.4 seconds left to seal the win in the tournament that benefits Coaches vs. Cancer.

"The one thing we told them is they're not going to quit," Weber said. "It's Coach (Gary) Williams, it's the way he is, they're not going to quit. ... We had to play till the last 15 seconds."

Stoglin had 17 points for Maryland.

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