Maybe it really was Bruce Weber’s fault.
24 hours after Butler laid the wood on the No. 9 team in the country, Illinois mollywhopped the Bulldogs, 78-61, to take home the Maui Invititational title.
Brandon Paul led the way for the Illini with 20 points while Tracy Abrams went for 17 and Tyler Griffy and DJ Richardson chipped in with 14 apiece. As a team, Illinois shot 10-25 from three, which actually lowers their three-point percentage on the season to 41.1%.
So are the Illini legit?
Well, six games into the season, they are 6-0 with impressive wins over USC and Butler. And while that doesn’t necessarily mean much — USC got taken to overtime by Texas and Butler was whooped up on by Xavier — what’s inarguable is that this Illinois team is playing much better under John Groce than they did for Weber. They’re sharing the ball, they’re scoring a lot of point, they’re shooting the ball well and they actually look like they’re having fun playing basketball.
That’s a major step up from last season.
Rob Dauster is the editor of the college basketball website Ballin’ is a Habit. You can find him on twitter @robdauster.
Utah picked up its center of the future on Monday as four-star center Jayce Johnson pledged to the Runnin’ Utes, a source confirmed to NBCSports.com. The 7-foot Johnson recently cut his list to Cal, Colorado and Utah with the possibility of reclassifying to the Class of 2015.
Regarded as the No. 67 overall prospect in the Class of 2016, Johnson will look to attend Utah in December as a walk-on who will redshirt. While Johnson likely won’t play this season, he does give head coach Larry Krystkowiak another big man to use in practice to go against sophomore center Jakob Poeltl. A solid long-term prospect, Johnson has a good frame to add weight and he’s also skilled finishing with both hands. Utah now has its replacement for Poeltl if he opts to leave for the NBA after the season and he gets an extra semester to work with the program.
Johnson is coming off of his official visit to Utah this weekend as he joins junior college guard Jojo Zamora in the Class of 2016.
South Carolina debuted some new uniforms early this week as the school is going with a fresh look and three color ways.
They’re also going to with the “Carolina” branding this season, but I think these new uniforms look pretty cool.