CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Luther Head took over for Illinois almost
as soon as the game started.
Head scored seven points before the game was three minutes old
and finished with 22 to lead the Illini (No. 4 ESPN/USA Today, No. 5 AP) to an 85-54 win over
Oakland on Wednesday night.
"The shots were good. My teammates found me," he said. "I
just had the confidence to knock the shots down."
He hit a short jumper to open the scoring. After Oakland tied
it, he hit a 3-pointer from the right wing, stole a pass and
sprinted the length of the court for a layup and a 7-2 lead.
Later, Head had a 3-pointer during an 11-0 run that gave
Illinois (3-0) a 25-9 lead midway through the half, and he dropped
two more to finish off an 11-3 run to build the Illini lead to
Head finished with a career-high six 3-pointers, and also had
nine assists and two steals.
"I thought Luther gave us a spark early, defensively and on the
offensive end," said Illini coach Bruce Weber, who admitted to
being a bit worried about an upset before the game. A snowstorm was
raging outside and the crowd was diminished by the weather and
holiday break at school, leaving Weber concerned his players might
be thinking about other things.
But Weber need not have worried.
"For a single night, that's the best team I've ever seen,"
Oakland coach Dave Kampehe said. "They pass the ball so well.
They're so unselfish. Their guard play is so good, defensively they
get after you. I don't see a weakness."
Deron Williams scored 17 points and also had nine assists for
Illinois. Roger Powell Jr. added 10 points, James Augustine had 11
rebounds and blocked four shots and Warren Carter came off the
bench to hit four consecutive shots for eight points.
Dee Brown, who led Illinois in scoring in its first two games,
was held to just six points.
"Just very unselfish," Weber said. "The biggest thing is one
day it's Dee, the next day it's Luther, and when it's not their day
they're still doing stuff."
But Weber said there still are problems his team needs to
quickly clean up. The Illini face 24th-ranked Gonzaga on Saturday
in Indianapolis and then meet No. 1 Wake Forest in the Big Ten-ACC
Challenge next Wednesday in Champaign.
"I think we're still a little sloppy with the basketball,"
Weber said. "I want them to take care of the ball. It's our guys
that we think are pretty good passers who are turning the ball
Oakland's zone defense gave the Illini some problems inside. The
Golden Grizzlies (0-2) forced 16 turnovers and had 12 steals.
But Illinois' accuracy meant it could simply shoot over
Oakland's zone. The Illini were 12-of-24 from 3-point range as a
team and wound up shooting 56 percent from the field.
"There were some possessions where everyone touched (the ball)
and it never hit the ground," Weber said.
Oakland, a member of the Mid-Continent Conference, played three
freshmen at times during the game. Despite the lopsided score,
Kampe was happy with the performance.
"I thought we played a pretty darn good second half," he said.
"I thought we took a step forward as a team for what level we have
to play" in the conference.
Rawle Marshall, Kris Krzyminski and Cortney Scott each scored 11
points and David Carson added 10 for the Grizzlies. Scott added