Illinois takes on Ohio State Sunday in the final game of the regular season.
March 5, 2004
FIGHTING ILLINI BASKETBALL
Game #27: #18ap/20 Illinois (21-5, 12-3) at Ohio State (14-14, 6-9)
TV - CBS * 3 p.m. CT / 4 p.m. ET
March 7, 2004 * Columbus, Ohio * Value City Arena (19,200)
#18/20 ILLINOIS (21-5, 12-3)
F - 40 James Augustine (So., 6-10, 225, 9.4 ppg, 7.5 rpg)
F - 43 Roger Powell (Jr., 6-6, 220, 11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg)
G - 4 Luther Head (Jr., 6-3, 175, 10.6 ppg, 3.7 rpg)
G - 5 Deron Williams (So., 6-3, 210, 13.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.1 apg)
G - 11 Dee Brown (So., 6-0, 175, 12.9 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.7 apg)
Off The Bench ...
C - 1 Aaron Spears (Fr.-r, 6-9, 260, 1.3 ppg, 0.7 rpg)
G - 25 Jerrance Howard (Sr.-r, 6-1, 200, 1.5 ppg, 0.5 rpg)
G - 33 Rich McBride (Fr., 6-3, 210, 3.3 ppg, 1.2 rpg)
F - 34 Fred Nkemdi (Jr., 6-6, 235, 0.0 ppg, 1.0 rpg)
F - 41 Warren Carter (Fr., 6-9, 205, 1.5 ppg, 0.8 rpg)
F - 42 Brian Randle (Fr., 6-8, 200, 3.3 ppg, 2.7 rpg)
C - 45 Nick Smith (Jr.-r, 7-2, 240, 7.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg)
C - 50 Jack Ingram (Jr.-r, 6-10, 240, 2.0 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
Overall Record: 124-59/.678 (6th year)
Big Ten: 12-3/.800
At Illinois: 21-5/.808 (1st year)
Vs. Ohio State: 1-0
Assistant Coaches: Chris Lowery (1st year), Wayne McClain (3rd year), Jay Price (1st year)
Assistant to the head coach: Gary Nottingham (1st year)
Trainer: Al Martindale (21st year at Illinois)
Ohio State Head Coach: Jim O'Brien
Overall Record: 368-303/.548 (22nd year)
At Ohio State: 133-86/.607 (7th year)
Vs. Illinois: 5-7
Assistant Coaches: Rick Boyages, Monte Mathis, LaMonta Stone
Series History: Ohio State
Illinois leads the all-time series 98-59 over Ohio State, including a 38-37 advantage in games played in Columbus. Illinois has won the last three games in this series, most recently an 85-63 victory in Champaign on Jan. 7. Illinois' last win at Ohio State came in 1998.
* With Wednesday's dramatic overtime victory at Purdue, Illinois has clinched at least a share of the Big Ten Championship, its third league title in the last four seasons and fourth in the last seven seasons. With a victory over Ohio State, Illinois would claim its first outright conference title since 1952.
* Illinois' nine-game winning streak is the longest by any Big Ten team this season. It is also Illinois' longest winning streak since winning nine in a row in 2002. The last time Illinois won more than nine consecutive games came during the 1989-90 season when Illinois won its first 11 games.
* Among the 10 highest-rated conferences in the RPI, Illinois' nine-game winning streak ranks as the third-longest current streak behind St. Joseph's of the Atlantic 10 (27 games) and Stanford of the Pac-10 (26 games).
* Illinois' nine-game conference winning streak is its longest since also winning nine straight league games spanning the final seven games of the 2002 Big Ten season and the first two games of the 2003 Big Ten season. The last time Illinois won more than nine straight conference games was in 1955-56 when the Illini won 13 straight spanning the final three Big Ten games in 1955 and the first 10 Big Ten games in 1956.
* Illinois has won its last five Big Ten road games, its longest road winning streak since also winning five straight conference road games spanning the final four road games of the 2002 Big Ten season and the 2003 Big Ten road opener. The last time Illinois won more than five straight conference road games was in 1955-56 when the Illini won six straight spanning the final two Big Ten road games in 1955 and the first four Big Ten road games in 1956.
* A victory at Iowa Feb. 25 marked Illinois' 10th Big Ten win of the season, the fifth straight year the Illini have reached double figures in conference wins.
* A victory over Northwestern Feb. 28 marked Illinois' 20th win on the year, as the Illini recorded its fifth straight 20-win season, which is also its seventh in the last eight years and 23rd all-time.
* Illinois has earned a bye in the first round of the upcoming Big Ten Tournament for the fifth year in a row. The Illini will receive either the No. 1 or No. 2 seed.
* Illinois went undefeated in the month of February, winning all seven of its games. This marked Illinois' first perfect February record in 50 years, since the 1954 Illini also went 7-0 in the month of February.
* Bruce Weber is just the sixth coach in the Big Ten since 1951 (when Michigan State joined the league) to defeat every other conference team in his first season. The other five coaches to accomplish this feat were Indiana's Bob Knight in 1972, Iowa's Tom Davis in 1987, Penn State's Jerry Dunn in 1996, Illinois' Bill Self in 2001 and Wisconsin's Bo Ryan in 2002.
* Illinois is the only Big Ten team this season to defeat all four conference opponents it played just once. This is the third time in seven seasons (since inception of Big Ten Tournament) that the Illini have swept the four "single" games. The previous two times came in 1998 and 2001, when the Illini went on to win shares of the Big Ten title.
Weber Wins Big Ten Title in First Season
Bruce Weber is the 11th coach in Big Ten history to win a conference title in his first season. He is the third Illini rookie coach to win the league, following Doug Mills in 1937 and Bill Self in 2001.
With a win over Ohio State, Weber's Illini would claim sole possession of the title. Only two Big Ten coaches have ever won outright league titles in their first seasons, Wisconsin's Guy Lowman in 1918 and Minnesota's Bill Musselman in 1972.
Big Ten Tourney Seeding on the Line
Illinois is guaranteed either a No. 1 or No. 2 seed in next week's Big Ten Tournament. An Illinois win over Ohio State or a Wisconsin loss to Indiana would give Illinois the No. 1 seed. An Illinois loss to Ohio State along with a Wisconsin win over Indiana would give Illinois the No. 2 seed.
Illinois leads the Big Ten in scoring at 73.6 points per game, after leading the league in scoring each of the last three seasons ... Illinois has shot 50 percent or better from the field in five of the last seven games ... In the last four games, Dee Brown is averaging 19.3 points and is shooting 56 percent from the field (28-50) and 52 percent from 3-point range (13-25) ...The Illini have six players averaging between 7.8 and 13.9 points per game, including four starters in double figures ... The Illini have had at least five players score in double figures five times this season ... Illinois players rank ninth (Williams), 15th (Brown), 19th (Powell) and 27th (Head) in the Big Ten in scoring ... Seven different players have led the Illini in scoring this season and eight different players have led the team in rebounding ... The Illini lead the Big Ten in assists (17.2 apg) ...James Augustine has posted seven double-doubles in 2003-04 ... Deron Williams (141 total, 6.1 avg.) and Dee Brown (121 total, 4.7 avg.) rank first and second, respectively, in assists in the Big Ten ... Illinois ranks second in the league in field goal percentage (.469) and third in defensive field-goal percentage (.413) ... James Augustine has won the opening tip in 24 of 26 games (all but vs. Providence and at Penn State) this season ... Illinois' 43-point win over Penn State Jan. 21 was its largest margin of victory in a Big Ten game since 1956, and the third-largest Big Ten win in school history ... Penn State shot just 21 percent (13-62) against the Illini on Jan. 21, marking the lowest field goal percentage in Assembly Hall history ... The Illini defeated Minnesota 79-69 on Feb. 8 to mark Illinois' 11th straight victory over the Gophers, which is the longest current winning streak by any Big Ten team over a conference opponent. The next closest active streak is Ohio State's 10 straight wins over Northwetsern ... With victories at Indiana (Feb. 3) and at Minnesota (Feb. 8), Illinois became just the second Big Ten team this season to record two road wins in the same week in conference play. Indiana first accomplished the feat with wins at Ohio State Jan. 20 and at Minnesota Jan. 24 ... Illinois forced Wisconsin into 17 turnovers (a season high) Feb. 18 after the Badgers entered the game leading the nation at just 10.0 turnovers per game ...Illinois recorded road victories at Indiana, Iowa and Purdue in the same season for the first time since 1937.
Brown Named Big Ten Player of the Week
Dee Brown was named Big Ten Player of the Week on Monday after averaging 19 points on 58 percent shooting both from the field and 3-point range in a pair of victories over Iowa and Northwestern last week. The sophomore added 6.0 assists and 5.5 rebounds per game to earn his first player of the week honor this season.
Brown opened the week by nearly recording a triple-double with 18 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in a victory at Iowa. Brown registered the first double-double of his career while setting a season-high in assists against only one turnover. In the final game of the year in Assembly Hall, he tallied a game-high 20 points against Northwestern, hitting seven-of-10 shots from the field and a scorching five-of seven from 3-point range. Brown recorded an assist-to-turnover ratio of 6.0 in the two games, racking up 12 assists with only two turnovers in 73 minutes of action.
Brown ranks second in the conference with 4.65 assists per game and second on the team with 12.9 points per outing. Brown collects the second Player of the Week award of his career, as he was also honored as a freshman on December 23, 2002.
Williams Set to Join Elite Company
Ranking first in the league with an average of 6.1 assists, Illini sophomore Deron Williams will lead the Big Ten in assists in conference play for the second straight year after finishing first as a freshman with 4.8 assists per game. Williams will become the first player to top the conference in back-to-back seasons since Michigan State's Mateen Cleaves was the league-leader in three straight campaigns from 1998-2000. Williams will also become just the third Big Ten player ever to lead the league in assists in each of his first two seasons, joining Michigan State's Magic Johnson (1978-79) and Illinois' Bruce Douglas (1983-84).
Last Time Out
Illinois clinched a share of the Big Ten Championship Wednesday night, winning at Purdue in overtime by the score of 81-79. Luther Head scored the game-winning basket with nine-tenths of a second left on a putback of a miss by Roger Powell. Head led the Illini with a career-high tying 19 points, while Deron Williams added 16 and Dee Brown scored 15. Nick Smith also finished in double figures with 12, eight of which came in overtime.
Illinois is 51-2 (.962) at the Assembly Hall over the last four years, with the only losses coming to Michigan State on Feb. 3, 2002 and to Purdue on Jan. 10, 2004 ... The Boilermakers broke a 23-game Illini winning streak at the Hall that at the time ranked fourth in the nation ... Illinois is 63-3 (.955) at the Assembly Hall over the past five seasons ...The Illini have also won 31 in a row at the Assembly Hall against non-conference opponents ... Illinois has won 35 of its last 37 (.946) Big Ten games at the Assembly Hall ... Below is a look at Illinois' home record the past five seasons:
Year Overall Big Ten 2003-04 12-1 7-1 2002-03 14-0 7-0 2001-02 13-1 7-1 2000-01 12-0 8-0 1999-2000 12-1 7-1 Total 63-3 (.955) 36-3 (.923)
In its last 10 victories, Illinois has played best defense of the season. The Illini held Penn State to 21 percent shooting on Jan. 21, marking the lowest field goal percentage in Assembly Hall history. Illinois held the Nittany Lions to just 13 field goals and a season-low tying 37 points.
In a victory over Michigan on Jan. 31, The Illini held Michigan to a season-low field goal percentage of 35.3 percent and season-low 52 points.
Illinois took that defensive tenacity on the road in a win at Indiana on Feb. 3. The Illini held the Hoosiers to 31.3 percent shooting on the evening. Indiana made just four baskets in the second half and did not score a field goal the final 9:53 of the game.
Illinois surged past Minnesota on Feb. 8 by again cranking up the "D". The Illini held the Gophers to just one field goal over a span of 11:38 during the second half while turning a one-point deficit into a 14-point lead.
The Illini then defeated Michigan State by 24 points, marking the worst loss of the season for the Spartans. MSU entered the game shooting 55 percent from the field in Big Ten play, but managed just 42 percent shooting against the Illini. Illinois held the Spartans without a field goal for a stretch of 8:20 spanning the end of the first half and beginning of the second half in which the Illini went on a 16-2 run to open up a 19-point advantage.
In a win over Wisconsin Feb. 18, the Illini held the Badgers with no field goals from 5:32 left to play until 1:14 as they extended their lead from one to nine. Illinois also forced the Badgers, who entered the game leading the nation in fewest turnovers per game, into a season-high 17 turnovers.
In a win at Penn State Feb. 21, Illinois trailed by one point with just over 11 minutes remaining. But the Illini again clamped down on defense, holding PSU to just one field goal over the next nine minutes while grabbing an eight-point lead en route to its sixth straight victory.
Illinois shut down Iowa on its home floor Feb. 25. The Hawkeyes entered the game leading the Big Ten in scoring at 73.7 ppg but managed just 59 points on 39.6 percent shooting against the Illini defense.
Illinois held Northwestern to just 56 points on Feb. 28, the fifth-straight UI opponent to score in the 50s. The Wildcats shot just 24 percent from 3-point range and under 37 percent in the second half.
In those 10 wins, Illinois' opponents have combined to shoot just 40.1 percent from the field and 31.1 percent from 3-point range while averaging 56.7 points per game, with eight of the 10 opponents scoring below 60. Below is a look at the statistics of the last nine opponents Illinois has beaten:
Opp FGs 3-Pt. FGs Points PSU 13-62/.210 1-13/.077 37 MICH 18-51/.353 3-18/.167 52 IND 15-48/.313 6-18/.333 49 MINN 25-58/.431 8-15/.533 69 MSU 18-43/.419 5-15/.333 51 WIS 24-48/.500 4-11/.364 57 PSU 20-43/.465 4-15/.267 58 IOWA 21-53/.396 6-19/.316 59 NU 22-51/.431 6-25/.240 56 PUR 26-47/.553 7-12/.583 79 Total 202-504/.401 50-161/.311 56.7 (avg)
Illinois Returns to Top 25
Illinois is ranked in both the Associated Press and ESPN/USA Today Coaches Polls for the second straight week, checking in at No. 18 in this week's AP poll and No. 20 in the Coaches poll.
On Jan. 19, Illinois' school-record streak of appearing in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll for 68-consecutive polls came to an end. The team also dropped out of the AP Top 25, where it had been ranked for 26-consecutive polls. Illinois' longest streak in the AP poll is 43 from 1951-53.
Illinois had a school record-streak of 30 straight polls in the Coaches' Top 10 snapped in January, 2002.
Colangelo and Kerr Among 16 Finalists for Basketball Hall of Fame
Former Fighting Illini standouts Jerry Colangelo and Johnny "Red" Kerr are among the 16 finalists for election into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Mass.
Finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee for election into the Basketball Hall of Fame. The Class of 2004 will be announced on Monday, April 5 at a news conference in San Antonio, Texas prior to the NCAA Championship game.
Colangelo lettered at Illinois from 1960-62, earning honorable mention All-Big Ten honors and serving as team captain as a senior. Colangelo began his professional career with the Chicago Bulls in 1966 as a scout and sales/promotion manager. He was named general manager of the Phoenix Suns in 1968 at the age of 28, becoming the youngest GM in pro sports at the time. Now the CEO and Chairman of the Suns, Colangelo has been named NBA Executive of the Year four times (1976, 1981, 1989 and 1993) while helping the club advance to the NBA Finals in 1976 and 1993.
Kerr was a three-time All-American at Illinois from 1952-54, leading the Illini to a Big Ten title and NCAA Final Four appearance in 1952. As a senior in 1954, he was awarded the Silver Basketball Trophy by the Chicago Tribune as the Big Ten's Most Valuable Player. Kerr played professionally with the Syracuse Nationals (1954-63), Philadelphia 76ers (1963-65) and Baltimore Bullets (1969-70). He was a member of Syracuse's 1955 championship team and was a three-time All-Star. Following his playing days, Kerr coached the Chicago Bulls and Phoenix Suns. He then worked in the front office of the ABA's Virginia Squires and the Bulls. In 1975, he became a color commentator for the Bulls, a position he continues to hold.
Williams Finds His Name Among Big Ten's Best as Player of the Year Candidate
Deron Williams has returned to the level of play he exhibited prior to breaking his jaw in mid-December. In Illinois' win over Wisconsin Feb. 18, Williams led all scorers with a career-high 31 points to help pull the Illini closer to the top of the Big Ten standings. He shot 9-of-18 from the field against the Badgers, which included a career-high five 3-pointers and career-best 8-for-8 shooting from the foul line.
In Wednesday's victory at Purdue, Williams recorded his third double-double of the season with 16 points and 10 assists. Williams is set to claim the Big Ten assists crown for the second straight year, becoming just the third player in league history to lead the conference in assists in each of his first two seasons.
In a win over Iowa Jan. 17, Williams scored 17 points, grabbed four rebounds and handed out four assists. He followed that performance with 12 points and eight assists in a win over Penn State Jan. 21. In Illinois' win over Michigan (Jan. 31), Williams scored 15 and led the team with five rebounds and five assists. He then erupted for 12 second-half points and had a game-high six assists in a win at Indiana (Feb. 3).
Williams recorded his second career double-double at Minnesota Feb. 8, scoring a team-high 19 points and dishing out a career-high 11 assists. He followed that with 15 points and six assists in the win over Michigan State Feb. 10. Williams has scored in double figures in 10 consecutive games with 12 points vs. Penn State (Feb. 21), 13 points vs. Iowa (Feb. 25) and 13 points vs. Northwestern (Feb. 28). Williams added seven assists and six boards against the Hawkeyes and had a game-high eight assists and six rebounds vs. the Wildcats.
The sophomore missed three games (Memphis, Missouri and Illinois-Chicago) due to a fractured jaw that occurred Dec. 11 against Maryland-Eastern Shore after running into a screen early in the second half. Williams had surgery on Dec. 12 to repair the double fracture and made a successful return to the court Jan. 3 vs. Illinois State. With his jaw still wired shut and making it difficult to breath, Illinois coaches hoped to get Williams a maximum of 18-20 minutes of playing time. But he defied those odds, coming off the bench to play 34 minutes. Williams fueled the Illini comeback against ISU, leading the team with 20 points, including four 3-pointers. He also had four rebounds and three assists in his first game-action in nearly one month.
Williams has been turning heads with his sensational play during his sophomore season. He leads the team and ranks ninth in the Big Ten in scoring (13.9 ppg) and has scored in double figures in 18 of 23 games. His scoring average so far is more than double his freshman average of 6.3 points. He scored a then-career-high 22 points vs. North Carolina (Dec. 2) and topped that with his 31-point in the win over Wisconsin (Feb. 18). Williams is shooting over 41 percent from the field (114-275) and leads the team in 3-point field goal percentage at 38.3 percent (49-128). While his scoring has improved dramatically, Williams remains an unselfish player with the ball in his hands, leading the Big Ten with 6.13 assists per game. He is also shooting 85.7 percent from the free-throw line, making 42-of-49. Williams had a streak of 26 consecutive free throws come to and end vs. Penn State on Feb. 21.
What Can Brown Do For You?
With apologies to UPS, sophomore guard Dee Brown, nicknamed the "One-Man Fast Break," has delivered a solid second season for the Illini. The Big Ten's Preseason Player of the Year by the media is second on the team and 15th in the Big Ten in scoring at 12.9 points, while leading the team in steals (38) and ranking second in the league in assists (4.7 avg.). He's also third on the team in rebounding at 3.8 per game. Brown was named to the preseason All-Big Ten squad by both the media and coaches. Wisconsin's Devin Harris was the preseason player of the year as voted by the coaches. Brown was also named to the 12-man Playboy Magazine All-America squad and was one of 50 players on the Wooden Award All-America preseason watch list. Brown is the fourth-consecutive Illini to earn league preseason player of the year honors following Cory Bradford in 2001, Frank Williams in 2002 and Brian Cook in 2003.
Brown has been on a scoring tear the past four games, averaging 19.3 points and shooting 52 percent (13-25) from 3-point range.
Brown erupted for a season-high 24 points vs. Penn State on Feb. 21, just one point shy of his career high. He made 8-13 from the field, including 6-10 from 3-point range. Brown's six treys were a career high and tied the most 3-pointers by a Big Ten player this season.
Brown showcased his all-around game in a win at Iowa Feb. 25. He scored 18 points and dished out a season-high 10 assists to record his first career double-double, while also pulling down seven boards.
He then scored a game-high 20 points vs. Northwestern Feb. 28. He made 7-of-10 shots, including 5-for-7 from 3-point land.
Brown most recently had 15 points and tied his career high with seven rebounds in Wednesday's win at Purdue.
Brown stands among the Big Ten's Top 10 players in four categories, ranking second with 4.7 assists per game, third with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.24, eighth with 2.1 three-pointers per game and ninth with 1.5 steals per game. He has scored in double figures in 11 of his last 16 outings.
Brown has had a season-high four steals vs. UIC (Dec. 30), Ohio State (Jan. 7) and Wisconsin (Feb. 18). He has made at least four treys in six games this year, highlighted by his career-high six threes vs. Penn State (Feb. 21).
Last year, he earned second-team All-Big Ten honors from the media and third-team honors from the coaches, and earned a spot on the first-ever Big Ten All-Freshman team. Brown was second on the team in scoring, averaging 12.0 points. He led the Big Ten in assists (all games) with 4.97 per game and also led the league with an assist/turnover ratio of 2.56. One of the quickest guards in America, Brown's 1.78 steals per game led the team and ranked third in the Big Ten.
In Big Ten Conference games only, Brown totaled 76 assists with only 25 turnovers, leading the conference with an assist/turnover ratio of 3.04 in league play.
Air Rog Takes Off
Junior Roger Powell is third on the team in scoring and second in rebounding, averaging 11.9 points and 4.9 boards. He ranks third in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting 60.4 percent from the field (125-207), and is second on the team with 60 offensive rebounds.
Powell recorded the first double-double of his Illinois career against Mercer on Nov. 26, scoring 16 points and grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds. He followed up that performance than with another double-double in his next outing vs. Temple. Powell scored 19 points and matched his career high with 10 boards. He then scored 20 points against North Carolina Dec. 2.
Powell has had some of his best games in Big Ten play, reaching double figures in eight of 15 conference games, including three of the last four. He had 11 points vs. Ohio State (Jan. 7), 20 points vs. Iowa (Jan. 17), 16 points vs. Penn State (Jan. 21), a season-high 24 points at Wisconsin (Jan. 24), 15 points at Indiana (Feb. 3), 10 points at Penn State (Feb. 21), 12 points at Iowa (Feb. 25) and 13 points vs. Northwestern (Feb. 28). Powell has scored in double figures 15 times this season.
Last year in Big Ten play, Powell led the league in field-goal shooting at 64.1 percent and was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team after helping the Illini to the title.
Augustine Scores and Rebounds
Another member of the heralded Illini sophomore class is James Augustine. Augustine, named to the first-ever Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season, is averaging 9.4 points and team-leading 7.5 rebounds per game. His rebounding average ranks fourth in the Big Ten, and he ranks second in the Big Ten in field-goal shooting at 64.4 percent (94-146). He ranks fifth in the league in offensive rebounds with 2.8 per game and third in blocked shots at 1.4 per game. Augustine has scored at least nine points in 18 games, highlighted by a career-high 21 points vs. Memphis Dec. 13. He has had at least nine boards in 11 games, with a career-high 14 against Northwestern Jan. 14, and has led the team in rebounding 12 times. Augustine has recorded seven double-doubles on the season, most recently vs. Michigan State on Feb. 10 (16 pts-11 reb).
Last year as a freshman, Augustine averaged 7.0 points while shooting 58 percent from the field. He was second on the team behind Brian Cook and 13th in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 5.8 boards. He was also 13th in the league in blocked shots. In Big Ten play only, Augustine ranked third in field-goal shooting at 58.6 percent.
* For complete Illinois men's basketball game notes, click on .pdf link at the top of this page.