Probable Illinois starters
F, 34, Brian Cook (senior,
6-10, 240, 19.8 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
F-C, 40, James Augustine
(freshman, 6-10, 220, 7.3 ppg, 6.2 rpg)
F, 43, Roger Powell (sophomore,
6-6, 220, 7.2 ppg, 3.3 rpg)
G, 11, Dee Brown (freshman,
6-0, 175, 11.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.8 apg)
G, 5, Deron Williams (freshman,
6-3, 210, 6.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.6 apg)
Off the bench
C, 1, Aaron Spears (freshman,
6-9, 250, 3.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
G, 4, Luther Head (sophomore,
6-3, 175, 8.6 ppg, 3.1 rpg)
F, 23, Blandon Ferguson
(senior, 6-3, 205, 1.7 ppg, 1.4 rpg)
G, 24, Sean Harrington (senior,
6-3, 185, 8.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg)
G, 25, Jerrance Howard (senior,
6-1, 200, 0.2 ppg, 0.3 rpg)
G, 31, Nick Huge (junior, 6-4,
215, 0.4 ppg, 0.2 rpg)
F, 32, Kyle Wilson (freshman,
6-8, 230, 2.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
F, 42, Clayton Thomas (senior,
6-7, 240, 0.5 ppg, 0.7 rpg)
C, 45, Nick Smith (sophomore,
7-2, 240, 5.7 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
Series history with Northwestern
This is the 148th meeting
between Illinois and Northwestern, with the Illini holding an 114-33
advantage in all games. This is the first time the two teams have
met at a non-campus site. Bill Self has defeated the Wildcats all
three times during his Illini career, and the Illini have won six in
a row. Since 1984, the Illini are 33-3 against Northwestern.
Illinois coaching staff
Head coach: Bill Self
Overall record: 199-103 (10th
year), Big Ten 31-12
At Illinois: 70-22 (third
year), all-time versus Northwestern 3-0
Associate head coach: Norm
Roberts (third year)
Assistants: Tim Jankovich
(first year) and Wayne McClain (second year)
Trainer: Rod Cardinal (30th
Northwestern coaching staff
Head coach: Bill Carmody
At Northwestern: 37-45 (third
year), all-time versus Illinois 0-3
Overall: 129-70 (seventh year)
Assistant coaches: Paul Lee,
Craig Robinson and Mitch Henderson
On the air
Television: ESPN -- Gus
Johnson, play-by-play; Clark Kellogg, expert analyst
Radio: Illini Sports Radio
Network, 43 stations -- Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Loren Tate,
expert analyst; and pre-game and halftime reports
The United Center: home away from home
While games played at the
United Center count as a neutral site in the record book, for the
Illini the UC is a home away from home. Saturday's game against
Northwestern will be the 24th game the Illini have played in the UC,
dating back to the 1994-95 season.
Illinois owns an all-time
record of 17-6 at the United Center.
Past Illinois games at the
Dec. 4, 1994, Duke, L, 65-70
Dec. 23, 1995, California, W,
Dec. 21, 1996, UCLA, W, 79-63
Dec. 13, 1997, Clemson, W,
March 6, 1998, Wisconsin, W,
March 7, 1998, Purdue, L, 47-68
Dec. 5, 1998, Bradley, W, 53-48
March 4, 1999, Minnesota, W,
March 5, 1999, Indiana, W,
March 6, 1999, Ohio State, W,
March 7, 1999, Michigan State,
Nov. 30, 1999, Duke, L, 69-72
Dec. 18, 1999, Kansas, W, 84-70
March 10, 2000, Indiana, W,
March 11, 2000, Penn State, W,
March 12, 2000, Michigan State,
Dec. 16, 2000, Arizona, W,
March 9, 2001, Purdue, W, 83-66
March 10, 2001, Indiana, L,
Dec. 8, 2001, Arkansas, W,
March 15, 2002, San Diego
State, W, 93-64
March 17, 2002, Creighton, W,
Dec. 14, 2002, Temple, W, 70-54
Bill Self is just one win away
from his 200th career victory as a collegiate head coach. … This is
Illinois' first conference game at a neutral site since the Illini
went 9-1 against Northwestern at the Chicago Stadium from 1942-51
(all Northwestern home games). ... Illinois is 37-1 at the Assembly
Hall under Bill Self, with the only loss coming to Michigan State
last year. Since then, the Illini have won 15 straight at the Hall.
… Illinois is 49-2 at the Assembly Hall over the past four seasons.
… Illini opponents are shooting .371 from the field, which ranks
second in the nation and would be the lowest opponent field-goal
percentage by UI opponents since 1955-56 (.352). ... Since 1956, the
only other Illini squad to hold opponents to less than 40 percent
shooting was the 2001 squad under Bill Self (.386). ... Illini
opponents are also shooting just .270 from 3-point range, which
would be the lowest in school history (current low is .308 in 2000).
... After 11 Big Ten games, Brian Cook leads the Big Ten in scoring
(19.4 average) and is 11th in rebounding (6.2 average), while James
Augustine ranks second in field-goal shooting (39-69, .565) and Dee
Brown is second in assists (4.91 average) and leads in
assist-turnover ratio (3.86). ... Brian Cook has scored at least 15
points in 17 of his 20 games this season, including at least 20
points 13 times. He has scored 20 or more 10 of the last 14 games,
including six in a row prior to Jan. 18 at Indiana, the longest such
streak by an Illini player since Kendall Gill tallied 20-plus points
in the final 10 games of the 1989-90 season. ... Illini players are
currently leading three Big Ten statistical categories for all
games. Brian Cook leads the Big Ten in scoring (19.8 ppg), Dee Brown
leads in assist-to-turnover ratio (2.62), and Sean Harrington leads
the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (.445). ... James
Augustine is second in field-goal shooting (.588, 67-114), Dee Brown
is second in assists (4.77 apg), and Deron Williams is second in
assist-turnover margin (2.11).
Last time out -- Illinois 70, Michigan State 40
Illinois put together its most
dominating performance of the season in rolling past Michigan State
70-40 at the Assembly Hall Tuesday night. After falling behind by
six points early, the Illini went on an 18-0 run over a span of 8:14
to take a 20-8 lead. Illinois led by 20 points at halftime and went
on another run in the second half, holding the Spartans scoreless
for 9:32 while going on a 21-0 run to turn a 48-28 score into a
69-28 advantage with under four minutes remaining. Illinois shot
over 54 percent for the game and held the Spartans to just 32
Michigan State's 40 points tied
the fewest points scored by an Illini opponent in conference play in
Assembly Hall history. MSU's 40 was also the lowest point total of
Tom Izzo's eight-year tenure, and the 30-point loss registered as
the Spartans second largest defeat under Izzo.
Freshmen guards Dee Brown and
Deron Williams combined for 36 points, six rebounds, eight assists
and nine steals to lead the Illini.
defense is tops
After 22 games this season, Illinois
opponents are shooting just 37.1 percent from the field, including
just 27.0 percent from 3-point range. The Illini rank second in the
nation (as of Feb. 17) in field-goal defense percentage.
The 37.1 percent shooting by Illini
opponents would be the lowest allowed since 1956 and just the second
time since that teams shot under 40 percent. The other was in 2001,
also under Bill Self.
The 27.0 percent
3-point field-goal defense percentage is the lowest in school
Against Coppin State on Dec. 30,
Illinois held the Eagles to just 12 field goals, the fewest made
shots in the 40-year history of the Assembly Hall, and to just 29
percent shooting from the field. Coppin was the second Illini
opponent this season to shoot under 30 percent.
In the Big Ten opener, Illinois held
Minnesota to 30.5 percent shooting on its home floor, as the Gophers
made just 19.2 percent (5-26) from 3-point range. In a 70-40 defeat
of Michigan State on Feb. 18, the 40 points scored by the Spartans
tied the fewest points allowed by Illinois in Big Ten play in
Assembly Hall history.
Illinois has now held 12 of its last 16
opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field and has a
total of 14 such defensive efforts this season. Coppin State's 37
points were the fewest allowed by the Illini since defeating
Northwestern 63-30 on Feb. 19, 2000.
Illinois leads the Big Ten in
field-goal defense percentage and 3-point defense percentage and is
second in scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of just
In the latest national statistics (as
of Feb. 17) compiled by the NCAA, Illinois ranks second in
field-goal defense percentage and eighth in scoring margin (plus
14.3), while ranking 23rd in scoring defense (60.5).
The 2002-03 Fighting Illini season has
been trademarked with unselfish play. Illinois leads the Big Ten and
ranks sixth in the nation (as of Feb. 17) in assists per game (18.14
average), highlighted by a season-high 25 assists versus Oakland, 24
versus Arkansas-Pine Bluff, and 23 against Western Illinois, North
Carolina and Penn State. In the win over Coppin State, the Illini
were credited with 21 assists on 22 made baskets, an amazing 96
percent of shots made. Illinois has tallied 20 or more assists in
eight games and has recorded assists on over 67 percent of its
baskets (399 assists on 594 field goals) on the season.
Guards Dee Brown and Deron Williams
rank second and fourth, respectively, in the Big Ten in assists with
averages of 4.77 and 4.50 per game.
Illinois has opened the 2002-03 season
by averaging 74.8 points per game, outscoring its opponents by an
average of over 14.3 points per. Illinois is shooting 48.4 percent
from the field, ranking 18th in the nation in field-goal percentage
(NCAA Rankings as of Feb. 17), and has shot 50 percent or better in
11 of 22 games this season.
Illinois leads the Big Ten in
field-goal percentage (.484) and scoring margin (plus 14.3) and
ranks second in 3-point field-goal percentage (.370) and second in scoring
average (74.8). Four of Illinois' top six scorers are shooting 50
percent or better from the field.
Senior Brian Cook, a preseason Big Ten
Player of the Year selection, is proving the recognition was
deserved. He may deserve more -- as in National Player of the Year
candidate. Cook leads the Big Ten in scoring at 19.8 points per game
(37th nationally as of Feb. 17), while ranking fourth in rebounding
at 7.0 boards per contest. He also ranks sixth in the league in
field-goal shooting (.517) and eighth in free-throw percentage (.817).
Cook has been Illinois' leading scorer 15 times and leading rebounder 12 times in his
20 games this season.
Cook's 31 points against Wisconsin Jan.
11 were a career high and the most by an Illinois player since Kevin
Turner scored 35 versus Indiana on Jan. 3, 1998.
In one of the most inspiring
performances in Illini hoops history, Cook scored 26 second-half
points (to Michigan's 27) in leading the Illini from an 11-point
deficit and knocking off the previously conference-undefeated
Wolverines. Cook scored 19 points in the final 9:15 to finish with
30 for the game. Cook had a streak of consecutive made free throws
come to an end at 32 on Jan. 4 against Oakland, tying Rob Judson and
Andy Kaufmann for second place in school
history for consecutive free throws.
Cook enters the Northwestern game with 1,545
career points, sixth on the UI career scoring list and 108 points
shy of Mark Smith for fifth place.
After sitting out the first two games
of the season (along with teammate Jerrance Howard) as an NCAA
penalty for playing in an unsanctioned summer basketball tournament,
Cook returned and immediately established himself in the Illini
Cook has scored at least 15 points in
all but three games this season, reaching 20 points or more 13 times.
He's also had at least eight rebounds nine times.
Cook's best scoring game came against
Wisconsin with a career-high 31 points. Other top games were his 30
points versus Michigan; 25 points against Minnesota and Temple; 22
against North Carolina, Oakland, Purdue and Ohio State; 21 against
Eastern Illinois and Memphis; and 20 versus Coppin State, Iowa and
In the win over No. 11 Missouri, Cook
scored 17, making all 10 of his free-throw attempts, and pulled down
a game-high nine rebounds.
Cook has been named one of 20
finalists for the Naismith Award, is one of 30 midseason candidates
for the Wooden Award, is one of 10 finalists for the Senior CLASS
Award and most recently was named a first team NABC all-District 11
[to top of second column in this article]
Illinois began the week ranked No. 15
in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, extending its streak to 53
consecutive polls in which the Illini have been ranked, including
every poll during Bill Self's tenure. Illinois is also ranked No. 20
in this week's AP Top 25.
The Illini had a school-record streak
of 30 straight polls in the Top 10 snapped in January 2002 but have
never dropped out of the Coaches' Top 25 under Self.
Dee-bate, Dee can play
Who is the best freshman point guard in
college basketball? It's hard to find a rookie guard who has made
more of an impact than Illinois' Dee Brown. Brown has started every
game and leads the Illini in minutes played (33.8 average). He has
scored in double figures in 12 games and is second on the team in
scoring, averaging 11.8 points. Brown exploded for a career-high 25
points against Eastern Illinois on Dec. 10, hitting 10-of-14 shots,
including a career-high five 3-pointers.
In two December performances in front
of national television audiences, Brown first had a game-high 21
points with seven assists and five rebounds in Illinois' victory
over No. 11 Missouri to earn Big Ten Player of the Week honors on
Dec. 21. He then followed with 19 points, including five 3-pointers,
as well as three assists and three boards with no turnovers, in 37
minutes against Memphis.
Brown had his best game in conference
play against Michigan State on Feb. 18, scoring a game-high 24
points on eight-of-13 shooting with five rebounds, five assists and
a career-high five steals.
Brown is second in the Big Ten in
assists with 4.77 per game and also leads the league with an
assist-turnover ratio of 2.62. He ranks 21st in the Big Ten in
scoring at 11.8 points per game. One of the quickest guards in
America, Brown's average of 1.59 steals per game leads the team and ranks
seventh in the
Through 11 Big Ten games, Brown has
totaled 54 assists with only 14 turnovers, leading the conference
with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.86 in league play.
Among the top freshmen in the league,
he ranks among the top four in assists (second), points (fourth) and
steals (first) per game.
In head-to-head matchups with other
heralded freshman point guards, Brown held North Carolina's Raymond
Felton to nine points (2-6 FG), three assists and eight turnovers.
Brown held Michigan’s Daniel Horton to three-of-17 from the field
(seven points), with two assists and seven turnovers.
Williams joins Brown in all-freshman backcourt
Deron Williams and Dee Brown make up
one of the best freshmen backcourts in the nation. The two rank
first and second, respectively, in the Big Ten in assist-to-turnover
ratio and have the Illini leading the Big Ten in team assists and
assist-to-turnover ratio. Brown leads the team in minutes at 33.8
per game, but Williams is third at 27.0 minutes. Williams is
averaging 6.7 points, is second to Brown for the team lead in
assists with 99, and is tied for second on the team in steals with
28. He ranks second in the Big Ten in assist-turnover ratio at 2.11
and is fourth in assists with an average of 4.50.
3 -- Sean Harrington
Senior Sean Harrington has been hot
from behind the arc this season. He has made 49-of-110 treys,
leading the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage at
44.5 percent. Harrington nailed a career-high six 3-pointers in
Illinois' win over North Carolina on Dec. 3 en route to 20 points and tied
his mark by making six-of-eight treys on his way to 18 points
against Coppin State. He tied it again with six-of-nine treys on his
way to a career-high 22 points against Minnesota. Against Oakland,
he had 20 points, connecting on five 3-pointers.
In his five games as a starter this
season, Harrington averaged 13.8 points per game, including an
average of 20.0 points in his first three starts. It was the first
time in his career at Illinois that he scored in double figures in
three straight games.
Harrington is third on the team with 50
assists and has just 20 turnovers, for an assist-to-turnover ratio
of 2.50. He is third on the team with 22 steals. In games played at
the Assembly Hall, Harrington is 32-63 (.508) from 3-point range.
Harrington ranks fifth on the UI career
list with 176 3-point field goals.
Another member of the heralded Illini
freshman class to shine has been newcomer James Augustine. He has
bolstered the UI frontcourt, averaging 7.3 points, and is second in the
Big Ten in field-goal percentage, shooting 58.8 percent from the
field. He has scored in double figures seven times, recorded his
first career double-double with season highs of 19 points and 12
rebounds versus Penn State, and followed with another as he had 11
points and 10 rebounds against Michigan. In addition, Augustine is
second on the team -- behind Brian Cook -- in rebounding, averaging
6.2 boards. He has been Illinois' top rebounder in seven games,
highlighted by his 12-rebound performance against Penn State.
Augustine ranks ninth in the Big Ten in rebounding at 6.2 per game
and is 11th in blocked shots at 1.09 per game.
The Illinois bench has been productive
this season, averaging 19.9 points and 9.3 rebounds, while limiting
the opponents' bench to 16.5 points and 9.8 rebounds. Illinois'
bench is outscoring the opponents' bench by 3.4 points per game and
nearly matching opponents in rebounding.
Bench numbers (points-rebounds):
Illinois 32-9, Lehigh 9-7
40-18, Arkansas-Pine Bluff 14-8
32-9, Western Illinois 14-6
39-14, North Carolina 7-1
20-9, Arkansas 19-13
12-13, Eastern Illinois 18-12
13-3, Temple 8-8
30-13, Missouri 26-11
17-12, at Memphis 11-15
12-10, Coppin State 6-8
11-10, Oakland 5-7
14-11, at Minnesota 36-17
9-6, Wisconsin 11-8
21-11, at Iowa 22-3
26-13, at Indiana 22-6
6-6, Purdue 18-11
19-8, at Penn State 20-7
8-4, Michigan 13-13
22-7, at Michigan State 30-13
25-3, Ohio State 6-15
12-9, at Purdue 23-11
17-6, Michigan State 15-16
Total 437-204, opponents 363-216
books more weekly honors
Senior forward Brian Cook earned
several Player of the Week awards the week of Jan. 6-12 after a pair
of stellar performances, averaging 28 points and 10 rebounds on 56
percent shooting to earn Big Ten, ESPN.com, The Sporting News,
FoxSports.com, College Basketball News and Dick Vitale Player of the
Week honors and lead the Illini to a pair of Big Ten wins.
The senior forward guided the Illini to
a road victory at Minnesota to open the Big Ten season, as he
equaled his then-career high with 25 points by hitting six-of-13
from the field and 13-of-17 from the free-throw line. Cook added 11
rebounds for his 11th career double-double.
The preseason Big Ten Player of the
Year put on an even more impressive show against Wisconsin, setting
a new career high with 31 points on 12-of-19 shooting, including a
pair of treys, in just 26 minutes on the court. Cook added nine
rebounds in the win to nearly record another double-double. The 6-10
forward produced 24 of his 31 points in the second half, including a
streak of 15 consecutive UI points, as he scored 22 of the Illini's
final 26 points in the game. His 12 field goals are the most by any
Big Ten player this season.
He earned his second Big Ten Player of
the Week accolade this season -- as he was also honored on Dec. 9 --
and the third of his career.
becomes first Illinois freshman to earn Big Ten Player of the Week
Dee Brown became the first freshman in
Illinois history to earn Big Ten Player of the Week recognition,
when he was honored on Dec. 23 after pouring in a game-high 21
points in the Illini's victory over No. 11 Missouri.
The first-year point guard connected on
a trio of 3-pointers, recorded a game-high seven assists and added
five rebounds, including four on the offensive glass, in the win.
Brown was the second Illini to earn Big
Ten Player of the Week accolades this season, as teammate Brian Cook
was honored on Dec. 9 and Jan. 13.
named Co-Big Ten Player of the Week following wins over UNC and
Brian Cook was named Big Ten Co-Player
of the Week on Dec. 9 after leading the Illini to victories over
North Carolina and Arkansas. He shared the award with Indiana's Tom
Cook scored a game-high 22 points in
Illinois' 92-65 victory over No. 12 North Carolina. He connected on
eight-of-12 shots from the field, grabbed a game-high eight rebounds
and tied his career high with five assists. Cook was also the
leading scorer in Illinois' 62-58 win over Arkansas, scoring 18
points in 39 minutes of action. Cook made seven-of-14 field goals
and added four rebounds and four assists versus the Razorbacks. On
the week, Cook averaged 20 points, six rebounds and 4.5 assists per
game on combined 58 percent shooting.
says 2003 final season
Guard Jerrance Howard has said that the
2003 season will be his final campaign as a player at Illinois.
Howard, who would have one season of eligibility remaining in
2003-04 after redshirting as a freshman in 1999-2000, will graduate
in May and plans to possibly enter the coaching field. He will be
listed as a senior for the remainder of his Illinois career.
sidelined with knee injury
Freshman center Aaron Spears suffered a
torn lateral meniscus in his left knee during practice on Dec. 16
and had arthroscopic surgery on Dec. 27. He is expected to miss four
to six weeks of action, with a possible return in mid-February. He
averaged 3.2 points and 1.5 rebounds in six games before he was
in final year as trainer
Longtime Illini men's basketball
trainer Rod Cardinal is in his 30th and final season on the bench.
Cardinal began his career in 1973-74 in Harv Schmidt's final season,
worked with Gene Bartow in his one season (1974-75), under Lou
Henson from 1976 to 1996, Lon Kruger from 1997-2000 and Bill Self
from 2001-03. Cardinal has been on the bench for more than 900 games
(917; 587-330 as of Feb. 20) and several thousand practices.
bask in season opener
For the first time in school history,
Illinois opened the season with three freshmen in the starting
lineup when James Augustine, Dee Brown and Deron Williams were on
the floor for the opening tip versus Lehigh on Nov. 24. Two
sophomores, Roger Powell and Nick Smith, rounded out the starting
lineup as the youngest in school history. Prior to the opener, the
five starters had combined for a total of four starts (all by Nick
The previous time Illinois started
three freshmen in any game was Feb. 20, 1991, when Rennie Clemons,
Scott Pierce, and Tom Michael started versus Ohio State.
In the opening two wins of the season,
the five Illinois freshmen scored 104 of Illinois' 186 points (56
percent), while grabbing 42 of the Illini's 90 rebounds (47
added to UI staff
Bill Self added veteran coach Tim
Jankovich to the Illinois coaching staff Nov. 20, replacing Billy
Gillispie, who moved to UTEP as head coach on Nov. 2. Jankovich, a
former head coach at North Texas, has worked as associate head coach
the last three seasons at Vanderbilt. He served on the same Oklahoma
State staff with Self in the early 1990s.
For the 2002-03 season, Illinois is
scheduled to appear at least 13 times on national television, with
five games on ESPN, four games on ESPN2 and four games on CBS. CBS
has until March 3 to announce a choice for the March 8 or 9 games to
be televised, including the Minnesota at Illinois contest.
leads Big Ten all-star squad
coach Bill Self led a Big Ten All-Star squad on a tour through
Germany, Belgium and Holland during the summer of 2002. Big Ten
players on the trip included Roger Powell and Sean Harrington of
Illinois, Tom Coverdale of Indiana, Jared Reiner of Iowa, Bernard
Robinson of Michigan, Chris Hill of Michigan State, Ben Johnson of
Minnesota, Winston Blake of Northwestern, Velimir Radinovic of Ohio
State, Jason McDougald of Penn State, Ivan Kartelo of Purdue and
Dave Mader of Wisconsin.
[Provided by Kent Brown,
assistant athletics director and
sports information director,
University of Illinois]