Hoosiers losers in rematch

By Lucas Deal

With 16,618 screaming fans doing their best to turn the Assembly Hall into a giant orange, the No. 14 Illinois basketball team jumped out to an 18-point first-half lead and rolled to a 70-58 win over a reeling Indiana team on Sunday.

As has become the custom at “Paint the Hall Orange,” the Illini used an incredible shooting performance early to take a 38-25 halftime lead. The Hoosiers attempted to make a run early in the second period, but the Illini would have none of it.

After an Earl Calloway layup cut the lead to 41-31 with 16:47 remaining, the Illini scored seven straight points to push the lead to 17 and out of the Hoosiers’ reach.

“We played better today, we played with a lot of intensity and energy,” said Dee Brown, who had 10 points, five rebounds and four assists. “When we do that we win.”

With Illini recruits Eric Gordon, Mike Tisdale and Bill Cole watching from the sidelines, the Illini faithful treated their future stars to an electric environment as strong as any arena in the country.

“We got the crowd involved early,” said Illini head coach Bruce Weber, “and they were tremendous. People just take (the crowd) for granted, but when you hear other coaches and other people come in, they are just in awe of what it’s like. It’s so positive for us.”

James Augustine led the Illini with 18 points and 10 rebounds while Brian Randle added 12 points – including a spectacular driving dunk from the left baseline over Hoosiers center Marco Killingsworth.

At 22-4, 8-4 in the conference, the Illini now control their own destiny if they hope to win another Big Ten crown.

“We keep taking a step closer to being really good,” Weber said. “But we have got to take that step.”