PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) -- Playing its 10th game in 24 days, Illinois
coach Bruce Weber didn't have high expectations for his team.
However, the 11th-ranked Fighting Illini showed no signs of
fatigue Saturday night as Dee Brown had 26 points and seven assists
in an 89-59 win over Oregon in the Pape' Jam.
"The first thing I wrote on the board was energy, effort,
enthusiasm," Weber said. "After all this travel and all these
games, I did not anticipate this. I was just hoping we could gut
out a win. This really surprised me."
Reserve forward Ivan Johnson tied a career-high with 16 points
to lead the Ducks (4-3), losers of three straight. Malik Hairston
added 12 for Oregon, which shot just 35 percent from the field,
including 26 percent in the first half.
Brown, an All-American last year, entered the game averaging
14.1 points but was shooting just 33 percent from the field and 27
percent on 3-pointers. The senior point guard and team leader hit 9
of 15 shots, including five 3s in his best performance of the
"The first nine games I was taking those shots; they just
weren't falling," Brown said. "But you know me. I'm going take
those shots and try to score. That's my job."
The Ducks struggled against an Illinois defense that forced 13
turnovers and shut off the middle early. The Illini were up 12-6 in
the first half when a flurry of 3s quickly doubled their lead.
Brown hit two 3-pointers and Rich McBride had added two more as
Illinois went up 24-11.
As the Illini began to sprint away, the Ducks hurt their cause
by forcing up bad shots. Oregon missed all seven of its first-half
3-pointers, while Brown knocked down two more 3s to make it 34-18.
The Ducks only bright spot was Johnson, who entered the game
midway into the first half and quickly made three of his first four
The strong shooting continued into the second half for Illinois
with Brown directing the offense with pinpoint efficiency. The
Illini, who are holding opponents to under 57 points per game, led
by as many as 31.
Having lost Deron Williams and Luther Head to the NBA, the
current Illini are much younger than last year's squad that went to
the NCAA finals and spent much of the year at No. 1. Still,
Illinois made believers out of the Ducks.
"They lost two pearls, but they work," Hairston said. "Bruce
Weber I'm sure is a great coach and they've bought in to him. They
work hard and know what it is they need to do to win."
Oregon had never loss in its holiday tournament, going 7-0 since
1998 while beating the likes of Kansas, Massachusetts, Vanderbilt
The Ducks were coming off a tough last-second loss to
Vanderbilt, and a dismal and uninspired 71-57 defeat to Georgetown
last weekend. The Illini fared much better against the Hoyas'
ball-control defense, beating Georgetown by 10 on Thursday.
Oregon's woeful effort in back-to-back games is frustrating to
Hairston, a sophomore who is their leading scorer. He wasn't sure
whether the Ducks, who have made the NCAA tournament in three of
the last five years, understand what it will take to get back on
"I don't think we have the least clue," he said.