Senior Mike Davis had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 5 assists against North Carolina.
Dec. 3, 2010
By Libby Knight, Illinois Sports Information Graduate Assistant
Heading into Tuesday's showdown with North Carolina, you might not have expected Mike Davis' double-double performance in Illinois' ACC/Big Ten Challenge game if you had seen him in practice. Leading up to the game, Davis had struggled through practices, especially the one the night before. Pushing through those, Davis delivered arguably the best game of his career at Illinois when the Illini cruised to a 79-67 win against North Carolina.
"Tuesday he came out with that emotion right from the get go," said teammate Demetri McCamey of Davis' performance. "He stopped the bigs, stopped Hansen, and did the things Mike Davis does on a normal basis. At the same time he had a couple of days of practice where Coach Weber didn't like his practice efforts, but he stepped up big for that game. He was tremendous."
Tremendous is an appropriate word for Davis' play. In Illinois' victory against North Carolina, Davis poured in a season-high 20 points and 10 rebounds to record his first double-double of the season. He also tied a career-best with five assists and three steals to cap a stellar night.
"It was fun with a sellout crowd and lots of energy," Davis said of the experience. "All the fans, the Orange Krush, they were great. I went out there and played aggressive and confident. When I play like that, I feel like I can play with the best."
Assistant coach Jay Price was especially impressed with Davis' five assists and is proud of the improvement he has seen from the senior throughout his career at Illinois.
"He really made strides in the last game," Price said. "Mike, since he got here as a freshman, has developed every year. He's always had the athleticism and has always been a good player, but lately he's really become a better basketball player, which we've been real proud of."
"As a team I want us to get back to the tournament, and make a run in it," says Davis. "I've never won a tournament game, so I want to get that feeling. The seniors need to lead this team to do it. Coach always says that for the team to have the best year, the seniors need to have the best year of their careers. I'm going to make a big step from last year to this year. Since I kind of had a down season last year, I want to make it a great season this year."
For his senior season, Davis is averaging 11.6 points per game and 7.0 rebounds game while shooting a 57.4 percent from the field. Davis hopes to average a double-double by the end of the year, saying he looks for 14 points and 10 rebounds a game. For Illinois to succeed and return to the NCAA tournament, Price feels it is important for Davis to become Mr. Double Double, a nickname McCamey, his teammates and the coaching staff have tagged for him.
"What we need from him is hustle," Price said. "We need him to be a good defensive basketball player and to get rebounds. We need him to be Mr. Double Double, which is what he can do. Hopefully, the North Carolina game will help spur him onto that consistent basis."
Cole, Davis' roommate for the past three years, believes that Davis will have a major impact on the success Illinois has this season.
"First and foremost, he's a good guy," says Cole. "From a basketball standpoint, he's just a go-to guy. He loves the competition. He's one of those people that hates to lose and that's the person I want on my team."
Luckily for Cole, and unlucky for the rest of the teams Illinois faces this season, Mike Davis is playing, and playing hard, for Illinois.