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Illinois wins ninth in a row despite struggles from field

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Bruce Weber knew his young Illinois team
would have to play tight defense if it was to succeed against
Georgetown's ball-control offense Thursday night. So the coach was
standing on his broken left ankle early in the game, waving his
arms and exhorting his players to stick to the Hoyas like glue.

It worked.

Georgetown missed eight of its first 10 shots, fell behind by 15
points and couldn't recover, falling to the Illini (No. 10 ESPN/USA Today, No. 11 AP)
58-48.

"The first half was as good a 20 minutes defensively as I've
seen in a long time," Weber said.

Dee Brown scored 16 points and James Augustine had his fourth
double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds to lead
the Illini to their ninth straight win to open the season and their
26th in a row at home.

Illinois scored the first 10 points of the game and led 12-2
with 12 minutes to go in the first half. It proved too much for the
Hoyas (3-2).

"We dug a hole that was a little too deep to dig ourselves out
of against a quality team," Georgetown coach John Thompson III
said. "Once we kind of regrouped, we kind of clawed and got back
in it."

The Hoyas were down 15 points at halftime but rallied behind
Jeff Green, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half. They
closed to 52-44 on Ashanti Cook's 3-pointer with 1:10 to go, but
then missed three straight shots, were forced to foul and the
Illini converted all six free throws before Green scored four
points in the final seconds.

"Their defense is terrific," Thompson said. "That being said,
we got shots. I think it was as much us as what they were doing. We
were just a little slow to get going there."

Illinois was only 9-of-25 from the field in the second half and
finished the game shooting a paltry 32 percent. They were helped by
seven 3-pointers.

"It's one of those games that's a slowdown," Brown said.
"There isn't anything you can do about that. Just find a way to
guard and get stops."

Weber, wearing a boot to protect the ankle he broke in a
household accident on Nov. 28, stood on the sideline nearly the
entire game. He kept after his players as they struggled with their
shots, shouting at them to go hard to the boards.

Illinois outrebounded the taller Hoyas 44-31 and had 21
offensive rebounds.

"The way we're playing offensively any extra possession is so
helpful for us," Weber said.

Illinois' Shaun Pruitt and Marcus Arnold held Roy Hibbert,
Georgetown's leading scorer at 16 points per game, to four points.

After Illinois jumped to its 10-0 lead, the Hoyas closed within
12-7 with 10:59 to go in the half. But the Illini tightened up
their defense again and forced Georgetown to miss nine straight
shots and turn the ball over four times over the next 9:02 and
built a 28-13 halftime lead.