Besides for any official Illini Twitter accounts trying to sell 2018-2019 season tickets, there probably won’t be too many “One Shining Moment” type montages made from this years Illinois basketball team. 14-18 doesn’t lend itself to a rolodex of warm memories, but no basketball season can pass without a few cherished favorites.
If you need something special carry you through the dark days of summer, let it be The Champaign Room’s #4 performance of the year, Trent Frazier’s breakout game against Missouri.
Brad Underwood’s budding point guard went on to have one of the greatest freshman seasons in Illini history, but was just starting to emerge when the wounded Illini rolled into the annual Braggin’ Rights game. Arguably the biggest win of the year, the pre-Christmas game against Mizzou is one of the monumental occasions of the Illini fan’s calendar. And as we saw from Trent Frazier over time, the young spark plug from Florida has a flair for the occasion.
And, as is also tradition, the first present an Illini fan will open is a big bottle of Tiger Tears, delivered fresh from the Fighting Illini. In 2017, Trent Frazier crossed those Tigers over, and personally collected Mizzou tears for my instant gratification.
Statistically, he had better games in 2017-2018 — Trent shot 5-of-17 from the field — but this was the big reveal. Frazier’s highlight films gave inklings of what he could be down the road, but not many people foresaw what he gave us years early. Against Missouri this year, his 22 electric points, his suffocating defense that led to three steals, his 10-11 from the charity stripe that sealed the game, and oh man, his ending to the first half. Scroll to 1:58 and watch THAT.
Talk about understanding the moment, Trent literally called out Jeremiah Tilmon right before half, motioned Tilmon to guard him a little closer, then proceeded to jab-step and put a buzzer beating three down in his eye — collecting more revenge tears to spread deliver with cheer.
After the Missouri game, Trent was this teams unquestioned best playmaker at the point, and asserted himself as an exciting lead guard for years to come. In a couple years, when finer memories exist (please), and I search my memory banks for tougher times and golden-rimmed thoughts, I’ll think of Trent Frazier dogging the Missouri Tigers for the first time in St. Louis on Christmas Eve’s Eve.