Let the blame game commence in Illinois

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As Illinois continues its late-season fade, things are getting tense in Champaign. (Stop me if you’ve heard this before.)

Illinois coach Bruce Weber says that the recent performance by Demetri McCamey – the team’s most important player – has been affected by people not on the team. From the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

“It’s college basketball,” Weber said. “There are a lot of influences whether it’s uncles, cousins, grandpas, ministers, preachers, relatives, neighbors. They all have something to say. And there’s also the factor of other outside people.

“There’s so much clutter in kids’ brains. Instead of just coming here and listening and being coachable, it all takes a toll and maybe adds up in the long haul.”

Weber paused and said: “I shouldn’t have said ministers and preachers, but I’ve had that before, too.”

McCamey’s lackluster Purdue game (4 points, 2 rebounds, 4 assists, 4 turnovers, 1 for 10 from the floor) no doubt irked Weber, but the coach says it wasn’t just that. He lauded McCamey for his work on his jumper and other skills, but stopped doing that extra work once people started telling him he was thriving.

McCamey’s in a shooting slump and has hit double figures twice in the last six games. But this Illini team isn’t so dependent upon McCamey that everything falls on his shoulders. Center Mike Tisdale’s been a non-factor. Same with Jereme Richmond. Mike Davis and Brandon Paul have had moments, but been inconsistent.

If Illinois finishes 9-9 in the Big Ten, that should be enough to reach the Big Dance and most of this will fall by the wayside. If not, Weber’s probably going to regret he ever brought it up.

Want more? I’m also on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.

Ellis, Lucas lead No. 6 Kansas past No. 10 West Virginia

Kansas forward Landen Lucas (33) blocks a shot by West Virginia guard Tarik Phillip (12) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game in Lawrence, Kan., Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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In the first meeting between No. 10 West Virginia and No. 6 Kansas, the Mountaineers dominated in their 74-63 win in Morgantown. Bob Huggins’ “Press Virginia” attack forced 22 Kansas turnovers, with the Jayhawks playing far too fast and loose with the basketball while also getting out-toughed by the Mountaineers. In the rematch Kansas (20-4, 8-3 Big 12) looked far better equipped to deal with West Virginia in both of those areas, winning by the final score of 75-65.

Kansas committed 15 turnovers, with Devonte’ Graham responsible for five of them, but they did not allow West Virginia (19-4, 8-3) to use those chances to kickstart their offense. The Mountaineers scored 13 points (one fewer than Kansas, which took advantage of ten WVU miscues) off of those turnovers and did not register a single fast break points. Having to play in the half-court more than they would have liked, West Virginia could not execute at the level they did in beating Baylor Saturday.

As a result Bob Huggins’ team shot 37.3 percent from the field and 5-for-20 from beyond the arc. The Mountaineers have shown signs of being able to win games in which they don’t force a high turnover count, but that wasn’t the case at Allen Fieldhouse.

If not for West Virginia grabbing better than 34 percent of their misses and scoring 14 second-chance points, the margin is likely even greater than the ten-point outcome due to the contract in offensive execution. Kansas pushed the ball early, getting out to an 8-0 lead, and as the game wore on the Jayhawks were much better in finding quality shot opportunities. Bill Self’s team shot 56.1 percent from the field with Perry Ellis scoring 21 points to lead five Jayhawks in double figures.

The tandem of Ellis and Landen Lucas, who grabbed a game-high 16 rebounds, won the battle against a WVU front court missing the suspended Jonathan Holton. Devin Williams, who went for 17 and 12 in the first meeting, finished the rematch with a respectable 14-point, nine-rebound effort but he didn’t get much help in the post from the likes of Elijah Macon and Nathan Adrian.

After having Self question their toughness in a home win over Kansas State six days ago, the Jayhawks have responded with wins over TCU and West Virginia. Obviously it’s tough to read too much into beating the Horned Frogs, because even with that game being in Fort Worth it’s one Kansas was expected to handle with ease. The Mountaineers posed a different, and far more rigorous test, and Kansas got the job done.

As a result the Jayhawks have brought West Virginia back to the pack in the Big 12 title race, making Saturday’s game at No. 3 Oklahoma even bigger than it already was.

VIDEO: North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapses on sideline

Roy Williams
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North Carolina head coach Roy Williams collapsed during the second half of No. 2 North Carolina’s visit to Boston College on Tuesday night:

Roy Williams has dealt with vertigo in the past; it’s not abnormal for him to collapse on the sideline during games, and given that his team is currently losing to Boston College, it’s understandable that he may have screamed himself dizzy.

He had to be helped off the floor:

It does appear that this isn’t something serious, according to a North Carolina release, that said Williams is “doing OK”.