It was an all Land of Lincoln title game in the 2011 Cancun Challenge title game. The Illinois Fighting Illini fell behind the Illinois State Redbirds 49-48 down the stretch but rallied in the end and hung on to win 63-59.
The Moon Place Resort in Cancun, Mexico houses a very small gym which was the setting for the Illini claiming a tournament victory. The cold prairies of Bloomington and Champaign, IL are a very different setting from the warm beaches of Cancun; and these college kids came there for business, to play college basketball, not to drink and sunbathe.
Sam Maniscalco led the Illini with 14 points; following up the big night he had in the tourney semi-final win over Richmond (season high 19 points). The Illini played their most complete game of the young 5-0 season vs. the Spiders, as Meyers Leonard had a career high 22 points and 12 rebounds. He also added 6 blocks, and so far it’s looking like the big seven footer should lead the Big Ten in that category this season.
His follow-up vs. ISU was less inspirational. Sure, he was just two boards shy of a double-double; but he shot just 3-9. He’s critical to the success of Illinois this season, as is Brandon Paul, who scored 12, adding 6 assists, but struggled with an ugly 2-11 from the floor.
The Redbirds’ Jackie Carmichael led the game with 17 points. It was the first loss of the season for ISU; who knocked off Rutgers from the Big East in their semi-final match.
A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the FWAA, USBWA and SPJ. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.
Tags: cancun challenge, illini, illini basketball, illini cancun, Illinois basketball, illinois basketball score, illinois basketball stats, illinois cancun, illinois cancun challenge, illinois st., illinois state redbirds, jackie carmichael, meyers leonard, Sam Maniscalco, spring break cancun