CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Revenge? Dee Brown and his Illinois
teammates found all the incentive they needed in simply getting an
early season victory on the road.
The dazzling guard scored 14 points and Brian Randle grabbed a
key rebound in the waning seconds, helping the 12th-ranked Illini
hold off North Carolina 68-64 Tuesday night in a rematch of last
season's NCAA championship game.
James Augustine added 13 points and 13 rebounds for Illinois
(6-0), which improved to 3-4 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The
Illini also snapped the Tar Heels' 21-game home winning streak
despite scoring only four points in the final 6½ minutes.
"That's cool, you should protect your house," Brown said when
told about ending the run. "It just feels good to get a road
Tyler Hansbrough led North Carolina (3-1) with 17 points, and
fellow freshman Marcus Ginyard had 14.
No one expected a true rematch of the final because only seven
remaining players on the two teams even played in that game, won
75-70 by the Tar Heels. But this one had all the drama of a matchup
in March, thanks to a furious rally led by a bunch of North
The quartet of Hansbrough, Ginyard, Bobby Frasor and Danny Green
scored all 29 points in the second half, including six clutch free
throws from Hansbrough and 3-pointers by Frasor and Ginyard down
"They're North Carolina," Augustine said. "You know they're
going to have some good recruits."
Those points came during a 12-0 run to make it 64-62, and after
the teams traded baskets, Illinois freshman Jamar Smith missed the
front end of a 1-and-1 with 17 seconds left. But Randle beat
everyone to the rebound and quickly got the ball to Brown, who made
two free throws to finally seal the victory.
"That was a fun basketball game," Tar Heels coach Roy Williams
said. "If you didn't care who won, you had to enjoy that. The
problem is we care deeply whether you win or lose. But I'm really
proud of my team."
Signs everywhere pointed to North Carolina being the defending
champ, and even if any of the Illinois players missed the two
banners hanging from the rafters, the students behind one basket
furiously waved towels proclaiming "2005 National Champs."
It didn't seem to faze the Illini.
"Needless to say, James and Dee didn't seem to be too carried
away or emotional," Williams said. "They were just
Illinois also seemed to rally around injured coach Bruce Weber,
who broke his ankle a day earlier working in his yard. He hobbled a
bit on the sidelines with a protective boot, and used a crutch to
travel from the locker room to the sideline.
"This morning, I'll be honest, I didn't think I'd be here,
because I was dying and some good medicine makes a difference,"
Weber said. "I'd rather have me have a broken bone than one of our
He watched his team take the lead for good on Randle's 3-pointer
to open the second half, and Illinois stayed in control until
suddenly losing its shooting touch. Illinois missed five straight
shots and had three turnovers in one 5-minute stretch, losing
nearly all of a 14-point lead.
"We didn't relax," Brown said. "It's a road game. If they
didn't come back, they're not protecting their home court."
But Randle finally broke the drought with a layup to make it
66-62, and after Ginyard added a jumper from the baseline, Randle
got there to recover Smith's miss, saving the Illini one final
The Tar Heels were forced to play with an eight-man rotation
when reserve point guard Quentin Thomas (stress fracture) couldn't
play, and they didn't get any help in the second half from their
veterans. David Noel scored all 12 of his points in the first half.
"We really went out on the court together," Noel said.
"Sometimes it takes a loss to bring a team together. This team
showed a lot of heart out there, a lot of character. That's all you
can ask from a bunch of freshmen and a couple of seniors."