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AUSTIN, Texas — In the second half, with Illinois in the midst of a 16-2 run, Nnanna Egwu lost his shoe.
Illinois’ big man tried to put it back on, but he wasn’t having any luck.
So he shuffled to the Illinois bench, handed his shoe to coach John Groce, then went to the lane and posted up with a fluorescent orange shoe on one foot and just a white sock on the other.
AUSTIN, Texas — Tyler Griffey sat tall in his chair at the back of the Illinois locker room with a smile as wide as the Red River. The Illini senior was in a good mood, and it wasn’t because the meatball sandwich he was munching on was particularly tasty.
“It’s just all right,” he said about the main course from his boxed lunch.
When John Giannini’s La Salle Explorers blew an 18-point halftime lead and rallied to edge Kansas State on Friday with just three second-half field goals, I didn’t think I’d ever see anything like that again.
But this NCAA tournament defies rational reasoning. The lightning that struck in Kansas City was mirrored within minutes in Austin, Texas.
DES MOINES, Iowa — Jesse Delgado already has a Big Ten wrestling title at 125 pounds on his resume this season.
Now the Illini sophomore will strive for a national title in the same weight class.
Delgado beat Nashon Garrett of Cornell 10-5 in a semifinal match Friday night at the NCAA Championships.
EACH WEEK, WE'LL TAKE A LOOK BACK AT A MEMORABLE MOMENT IN ILLINI HISTORY, THANKS TO THE WORDS OF THE NEWS-GAZETTE
This week: If it beats Miami, Illinois will reach the Sweet 16 for the first time since 2005. In 2001, the Illini ended a much-longer Sweet 16 drought by winning twice in Dayton.
We asked staff writer Matt Daniels for his take on TNT’s telecast of Friday’s game:
One had to sense the TNT crew of Tim Brando, Mike Gminski and Otis Livingston would bring up the bracelets Illinois has by the same name during Friday’s telecast.
Today was another long day spent inside the Erwin Center. I wasn’t mad about it. I got to watch a bunch of basketball and was able to escape the Texas heat and humidity. I actually broke a sweat today walking to the arena at 10 a.m.
Does that upset you all? I hear there’s a snowstorm coming your direction. I might just stay here.
Survive and advance. That's the mantra of March. Despite the incredibly poor first 13 minutes of the second half, Illinois, somehow, someway, did just that on Friday despite getting out-played for most of the second half.
PLAYER OF THE GAME