(Eds: Updates.) By DAVID MERCER Associated Press Last weekend, Illinois' surprising unbeaten start was 4.4 seconds away from running head-on into a wall.
Gardner-Webb, an opponent any Big Ten school is expected to beat at home, was up by two with the clock winding down on the strength of a banked-in 3-pointer, the kind of good-grief shot that tells the opponent it just might not be their night.
A season ago, Illinois probably would have cracked under that pressure. That team - essentially the same group of players - lost 12 of its last 14, missed the NCAA tournament and saw its coach fired.
Not this time.
Senior forward Tyler Griffey, just a minute or so removed from a bad miss that could have drained his confidence, buried a long 3 for the win.
The Illini (8-0) woke up the next day ranked 22nd in the country. So far they've won the Maui Invitational title, blowing out Butler in the championship, and are averaging 11 3-pointers a game. That's more than any team in the country, ...