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14.07.2018 05:21
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Three plays into the fourth quarter last Saturday, Illinois was within a touchdown and a two-point conversion of North Carolina.Over the next 14-plus minutes, first-year coach Lovie Smith learned a lot about his Illini and how far they have to go.Illinois (1-1) fell apart over that final quarter, and ended up with a 48-23 loss in a game that was within reach even after a night of inconsistent play.Weve made strides, we started fast, Smith said, referring to the 7-0 lead Illinois quickly opened on the Tar Heels. We as a football team have to be able to finish a football game.On Saturday, Illinois will face a team that has shown it can finish strong, particularly in its opening upset at Northwestern. Western Michigan (2-0) knocked off the Wildcats 22-21 , and comes to Champaign as a 3-point favorite.The Broncos fourth quarter at Northwestern was a how-to guide in one way to come from behind and close out a win.The Broncos trailed 21-16 when they got the ball with just over 12 minutes to play. They put together a 12-play drive that ate up 6:35 and 75 yards and ended with a touchdown and a one-point lead.Then Western Michigan forced a fumble at its own 1-yard line to take the ball back before grinding down the clock.Illinois finish against North Carolina was a lesson in how not to come back.After pulling to within 31-23 on a touchdown pass from Wes Lunt to Malik Turner, Illinois fumbled twice (recovering both), committed four penalties (two were declined) and gave up 146 yards that included a crushing 62-yard touchdown run by Elijah Hood.Those fumbles and the four others on the night by Illinois were concerning, Smith said.But, he said the 25-point loss offered a chance to teach his team some things that the previous weeks 52-3 win over Murray State did not.Theres just no way to get some points across when you blow somebody out, simple as that, he said. From this game there were so many things for players to see, for us to see, how important every play is. And you can only get that through having a tough loss like this.Lunt blamed himself for much of what went wrong late in the North Carolina game. He had a rough night from start to finish, but was 3-10 after the fourth-quarter touchdown pass. Lunt also fumbled the ball on a sack.You know, it was an eight-point game in the fourth quarter. A play here and a play there could have tied it up, said Lunt, a senior.But Smith emphasized that, however close Illinois might have been, the fourth quarter and the loss it guaranteed were the bottom line.We should have a bad, terrible feeling deep down inside until we play the next game, he said.---Follow David Mercer on Twitter: (at)davidmercerAP---Online:Associated Press college football coverage: Cheap Celtics Jerseys . In Europe, top teams seem to be largely happy with their squads after spending nearly $1 billion in the off-season. And although English league clubs are unlikely to splash cash in January, Arsenal and Chelsea could be tempted to strengthen their squads with new strikers. Cheap Larry Bird Jersey . In the response filed Wednesday to the complaint by 30-year-old Alexander Bradley, attorneys say the former University of Florida player is invoking his Fifth Amendment right that protects people from incriminating themselves. . He just needed to be his best twisting, turning acrobatic self. "I didnt need to be anybody else, I just needed to be myself and be aggressive," said Burks, who scored a career-high 34 points to spark the Utah Jazz to a 118-103 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday night. Cheap Bill Russell Jersey . Bjorn, who had a 36-hole total of 8-under 134, made a testing six-foot putt to save par on the 16th and a birdie on the 17th before bogeying the final hole after a misjudged approach shot. American Kevin Streelman was in second place after shooting a 69. Cheap Robert Williams Jersey . Each of Houstons starters scored in double figures as the Rockets improved to 2-0 against the Spurs this season, with both victories coming on the road. They also moved within 3 1/2 games of San Antonio (22-7) for the lead the Southwest Division. With the Cleveland Cavaliers set to open their season with a voluntary minicamp in California in less than a week, free-agent guard J.R. Smith shed some light on what is holding up his decision.?Yes and no, Smith told Complex in an interview published Friday, when asked if re-signing with the Cavaliers was his best option. It depends on how you look at it.Financially, you can always go somewhere else. Team morale-wise, there are a few teams that I could see working. There are guys I would like to play with, guys I have played with. Being able to live in that city or a particular place, school systems, kids, family life -- [with] free agency, everything comes into play. Before, I could just sit there and be like, I dont care where I go. But now I have the kids, and its like, OK, whats the best fit??Smith did not pick up his $5.3 million player option for the 2016-17 season in July, becoming an unrestricted free agent after averaging 12.4 points, 2.8 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.1 steals and hitting 204 3-pointers in 77 starts for Cleveland.The 2012-13 NBA Sixth Man Award winner, who turned 31 this month, sought to cash in on a robust free-agent market this summer that saw several journeymen shooting guards (Eric Gordon, Jamal Crawford, Courtney Lee) sign deals worth north of $10 million annually.A source familiar with the negotiations between Smith and the Cavs told ESPN that Smiths camp is prepared to be in it for the long haul until a deal is agreed upon.Smith is represented by Rich Paul of Klutch Sports. Paul also repreesents Cavs starters LeBron James and Tristan Thompson.dddddddddddd Last year, Thompson missed the majority of training camp over a protracted contract holdout before settling on a five-year, $82 million extension.In response to being asked when he expected to reach an agreement with the Cavs, Smith told Complex: Soon, I hope.Cleveland, already over the salary cap with the 12 players it has under contract, would be limited to signing a player to a veterans minimum contract or facilitating a deal to use one of its trade exceptions in order to replace Smith should he sign with another team. Smiths options are seemingly also limited, with the only teams with significant cap space remaining -- the 76ers, Nuggets, Nets, Suns and Jazz -- either being in rebuilding mode or already stocked at shooting guard.James has publicly stumped for the Cavs to reach a deal with Smith, writing on his Instagram account earlier this month when wishing Smith a happy birthday: Enjoy your day to the fullest and know i cant wait to get back to work on that court with u as my wing backcourt mate!! Lets go.?Well, obviously were not where we want to be at from a personal standpoint, Smith told Complex. But its more than just numbers. I dont want to feel like Im taking advantage of the Cavs for everything theyve done for me, and I dont want them to feel like Im taking advantage of them. Its more of a mutual respect thing. 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