(5) Illinois 72

(6-0, 1-0 away)

Arkansas 60

(5-1, 5-1 home)

2:00 PM ET, December 4, 2004

1 2 T
#5ILL 40 2868
ARK 31 2657

Top Performers

Illinois: R. Powell Jr. 19 Pts, 11 Reb, 1 Blk

Arkansas: R. Brewer 21 Pts, 4 Reb, 1 Ast, 4 Stl

Illini's Powell scores 19

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) -- Illinois was unable to dominate as it did against top-ranked Wake Forest, so the Illini took advantage of Arkansas' breakdowns whenever it could and came away with a 72-60 victory Saturday.

Roger Powell had 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Dee Brown and Deron Williams each scored 13, helping Illinois (No. 3 ESPN/USA Today; No. 5 AP) overcome a sluggish offense and poor free-throw shooting to win.

"Overall, several guys didn't play well, but we kept them from scoring, too," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "Eventually, somebody made a nice screen or somebody made a nice pass and Roger was able to finish it."

But the Illini (6-0) rarely looked like the team that beat Wake Forest by 18 Wednesday night. Illinois was playing its first game in front of a hostile crowd and, while never rattled, it committed 14 turnovers -- more than twice the six it had against the Demon Deacons.

"It was important that we got this win on the road," Williams said. "They came out aggressive and tried to force turnovers. It was definitely the most pressure we have had all year."

But Arkansas (5-1) was a step behind throughout the first half, as the Illini built a nine-point lead. Illinois patiently worked the ball around the perimeter and took advantage when the Razorbacks missed an assignment or overreached in a passing lane.

"The real key was not getting off to a good start and giving them a lead," Arkansas coach Stan Heath said.

The Razorbacks played tighter in the second half, but suffered from poor shooting after closing the gap to 57-53 with 7:47 left.

"If they get their big guys to be productive, they'll be a pretty good team," Weber said.

Powell converted a three-point play a half-minute later after working the ball inside against Charles Thomas. The Razorbacks managed only Brewer's dunk and Steven Hill's free throw over the next six minutes, as Illinois extended its lead to 10.

Brewer scored 21 for Arkansas, but was the only Razorbacks player with more than nine points.

"Our goal was to do the best we could in the first half and wear them down early and still have a chance to get in the game in the second half," Heath said. "There were a few possessions where we really hurt ourselves by missing the shot, or getting the foul but not making the free throw.

"Honestly, though, I'm not disappointed in the way we played overall," Heath said.

Through the game's first 30 minutes, Illinois made only seven of 16 free throw attempts, including only one of its six second-half tries. As Arkansas went cold and turned to fouling to stop the Illini, Illinois made 14 of its final 19 tries.

"I'm proud of us. We didn't play pretty and the stats aren't pretty," Weber said. "I'm happy we didn't wear down physically."

Saturday's trip was Illinois' first outside the Midwest. The Illini had won four games at home and another in Indianapolis, a neutral site, against Gonzaga.

While Arkansas wasn't playing at home, either -- it schedules a game away from its Fayetteville campus to appease fans outside the Ozarks -- the crowd was far from neutral and stayed loud until the game became a dull parade of free throws.

"That's a low roof up there and when they got their Woo-Sooie or whatever it is going, it was pretty loud," Weber said

The final basket of the game was Brewer's dunk with 7:07 left, which made it 60-55. The last 17 points were scored from the free throw line.

Illinois, which put together a number of scoring streaks against Wake Forest on Wednesday as it built a 32-point lead, had only a 9-2 spurt in the first half to go up 26-18. The lead reached 40-28 before the Razorbacks narrowed it to 40-31 and Hill blocked Nick Smith's shot in the closing seconds of the first half.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


Team Stat Comparison

Points 72 60
FG Made-Attempted 22-52 (.423) 19-52 (.365)
3P Made-Attempted 7-19 (.368) 5-16 (.313)
FT Made-Attempted 21-35 (.600) 17-32 (.531)
Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 24 (0/0) 24 (0/0)
Largest Lead 12 1

2004-05 Season

» Dec 4, 2004 ILL 72, @ARK 60Recap