Second-half 20-5 run gave Illini 39-point lead

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Illinois coach Bruce Weber is running out of challenges for his top-ranked team.

"I told the guys today that we should win by 25 points or more if we played up to our potential," Weber said after the Illini beat Valparaiso 93-56 on Sunday. "I'm trying to find things to challenge them with."

Dee Brown scored 19 points to lead all five starters in double figures for the second straight game and the Illini (10-0) seemed to draw as many "oohs" and "aahs" as cheers from the sellout crowd as they built a 49-23 halftime lead and cruised through the second half.

"We just played Illinois basketball," Brown said. "We weren't too excited. We just did our job, got a win."

Brown scored five points in a 20-5 run midway through the second half that gave Illinois a 39-point lead over the Crusaders (2-6), who saw a two-game winning streak end.

"We wanted to give a better game than what we did but when you look at five people in double figures and Illinois had only five turnovers -- they're just fun," Valparaiso coach Homer Drew said.

Deron Williams scored 15 points, Roger Powell Jr. had 14, Luther Head had 11 points and nine assists and James Augustine had 10 points and nine rebounds for Illinois.

Valparaiso, playing its sixth straight game without injured senior point guard Ali Berdiel, got 16 points from Dan Oppland and 10 from Vincent Humphrey. The Crusaders shot 34 percent and committed 15 turnovers.

"We have three of our top six players not playing" because of injuries, Drew said. "We had no senior on the floor. We had nine freshmen and sophomores who played most of the time. It was a learning experience for them."

Kenny Harris and Shawn Huff also missed the game for Valpo.

The Illini were neither fazed by an eight-day layoff for final exams nor by looking ahead to Wednesday's annual rivalry game against Missouri. They jumped to a 5-0 lead on a 3-pointer from Brown and a jumper by Williams and started a 14-5 run. The Illini also had runs of 10-3, 12-3 and 14-2 in the first half.

Illinois went up by 36 points with 13:12 to go when Brown followed his own 3-pointer by batting for a loose ball at midcourt and then sprinting to beat Valpo's Seth Colclasure to recover it. He drove to the basket for a layup and drew both a foul and a standing ovation.

The Illini kept going from there, building a 74-35 lead on another layup by Brown with 10:12 to go.

"We've challenged them to win both halves," Weber said. "We haven't done a great job of taking care of the ball in the second half and we've talked a lot about winning the second half."

The Illini had assists on 14 of 20 first-half baskets while committing only one turnover, a bad pass in the lane by Brown. They had 26 assists on 40 field goals in the game, while committing five turnovers.

Illinois reserves Rich McBride and Shaun Pruitt both left the game with ankle injuries. Weber said neither injury appeared to be serious.