Illinois ties school record with 17th win in a row

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Luther Head's eyes lit up as soon as he
saw Penn State was playing zone defense.

He finished with five of top-ranked Illinois' school-record 15
3-pointers and scored 19 points in a 90-64 victory on Wednesday
night that tied the school record for consecutive wins at 17.

Dee Brown also has five 3s and finished with 15 points for the
Illini (17-0, 3-0 Big Ten).

The record winning streak was set by the 1988-89 team that was
the last from Illinois to reach the Final Four. Illinois also
became the 15th Division I school to reach 1,500 victories.

"When teams play zone, there's always open shots for me, Dee
and Deron (Williams)," Head said. "We just like to step up and
try to show these teams that we are good shooters."

The Illini took control with a 16-0 first-half run, built their
lead to 16 points at halftime and were up 90-60 with 1:57 to go.

Penn State (6-10, 0-3) lost its fourth straight game. Coach Ed
DeChellis left without talking to reporters so his team could beat
a line of thunderstorms out of town.

"We're honored to be mentioned in the same sentence as the
Flyin' Illini," Williams said, referring to the 1988-89 team. "To
be up there with them is great because that's probably the greatest
team we've had in the history of Illinois basketball."

The Illini can set the record Saturday with a win at
Northwestern, which lost 71-61 at Michigan on Wednesday.

Illinois finished 15-of-34 from 3-point range, breaking the old
record of 14 3s set in 1996.

"One of the things I have done is put in a little extra time
with 3s," coach Bruce Weber said. "We struggled a couple games
around Christmas (and) I told the coaches 'Let's get some extra 3s

When Weber stresses long shots in practice, the team finds it
easy to shoot them in games.

Head hit the two early as he scored 10 of the Illini's first 12
points. Brown and Williams then hit 3-pointers on consecutive shots
to start the game-turning run that gave Illinois control.

It was the fourth game this season the Illini have had at least
10 3-pointers.

"It's definitely one of our strengths and a positive weapon,"
Weber said.

The Illini shot 57 percent from the field while holding Penn
State to 43 percent and they had assists on 26 of 34 baskets.
Williams had 12 assists and Brown had six.

Williams scored 11 points and James Augustine added 10 points
and seven rebounds.

Geary Claxton scored 16 points for the Nittany Lions, while Ben
Luber and Aaron Johnson each had 11 and Travis Parker 10.

The Nittany Lions kept pace with Head's early shooting and had a
10-8 lead with 15:31 to go in the first half.

But the 3-pointers from Brown and Williams broke a 12-12 tie and
helped send the Ilini to a 28-12 lead with 9:36 to go.

Penn State's Mike Walker finally hit a 3-pointer to stop a 4:24
scoring drought, but Illinois outscored Penn State 13-8 from there
and led 41-25 at halftime.