Probable Illinois starters
F, 34, Brian Cook (senior, 6-10, 240,
19.8 ppg, 7.1 rpg)
F-C, 40, James Augustine (freshman,
6-10, 220, 7.3 ppg, 5.9 rpg)
F, 43, Roger Powell (sophomore, 6-6,
220, 8.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg)
G, 11, Dee Brown (freshman, 6-0, 175,
12.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 4.8 apg)
G, 5, Deron Williams (freshman, 6-3,
210, 6.4 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 4.7 apg)
C, 1, Aaron Spears (freshman, 6-9, 250,
3.2 ppg, 1.5 rpg)
G, 4, Luther Head (sophomore, 6-3, 175,
8.1 ppg, 2.9 rpg)
F, 23, Blandon Ferguson (senior, 6-3,
205, 1.5 ppg, 1.3 rpg)
G, 24, Sean Harrington (senior, 6-3,
185, 7.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg)
G, 25, Jerrance Howard (senior, 6-1,
200, 0.5 ppg, 0.3 rpg)
G, 31, Nick Huge (junior, 6-4, 215, 0.3
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, 0.4 ppg, 0.6 rpg)
C, 45, Nick Smith (sophomore, 7-2, 240,
5.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
history with Wisconsin
This is the 167th meeting between
Illinois and Wisconsin, with the Illini owning a 101-65 edge in the
all-time series. Wisconsin, however, leads 48-36 in games played at
Madison and is 3-1 against the Illini at the Kohl Center. The Illini
have beaten the Badgers two straight times and have won seven of the
last 10 games in the series, including a 69-63 victory in Champaign
on Jan. 11.
Illinois coaching staff
Head coach: Bill Self
Overall record: 202-103 (10th year),
Big Ten 34-12
At Illinois: 73-22 (third year),
all-time versus Wisconsin 3-1
Associate head coach: Norm Roberts
Assistants: Tim Jankovich (first year)
and Wayne McClain (second year)
Trainer: Rod Cardinal (30th year)
Wisconsin coaching staff
Head coach: Bo Ryan
At Wisconsin: 40-19 (second year),
all-time versus Illinois 1-3
Overall: 423-122 (18th year)
Assistant coaches: Rob Jeter, Tony
Bennett, Greg Gard
Television: ESPN Plus local -- Craig
Coshun, play-by-play; Doug Altenberger, expert ESPN Plus analyst
Radio: Illini Sports Radio Network, 43
stations -- Brian Barnhart, play-by-play; Stephen Bardo, expert
analyst; and Loren Tate, pre-game and halftime reports.
Illinois enters the March 5 game at
Wisconsin a half game behind the Badgers for first place in the
conference. ... An Illini win would assure Illinois at least a share
of the regular-season title, the first three-peat in school history,
with one game remaining at home against Minnesota. ... A Wisconsin
win would give the Badgers sole possession of the title. ... The
Illini have topped 20 wins 22 times in school history, including six
of the last seven seasons and each season under Bill Self. ...
Illinois is 38-1 (.973) at the Assembly Hall under Bill Self, with
the only loss coming to Michigan State in 2002. ... Since then, the
Illini have won 16 straight at the Hall. ... Illinois is 50-2 (.962)
at the Assembly Hall over the past four seasons. … Illini opponents
are shooting .378 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 .287 from 3-point range, which would be the lowest in
school history (current low is .308 in 2000). ... After 14 Big Ten
games, Brian Cook leads the Big Ten in scoring (19.5 average) and is
seventh in rebounding (6.6 average), while Roger Powell and James
Augustine rank first and second, respectively, in field-goal
shooting at .652 (43-66) and .593 (48-81). ... Dee Brown is tied for
the league lead in assists (4.86 average), and Deron Williams is
tied for third (4.71 average). ... Brown leads in steals (1.93
average) while leading in assist-turnover ratio (3.24). ... Over the
last three games, Deron Williams has 18 assists and just one
turnover in 85 minutes. ... Brian Cook has scored at least 15 points
in 20 of his 23 games this season, including at least 20 points 14
times. He has scored 20 or more in 11 of the last 16 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 (2.53), and Sean Harrington
leads the conference in 3-point field-goal percentage (.443). ...
Roger Powell is second in field-goal shooting (.607, 82-135), with
James Augustine one slot back (.603, 76-126) in third. Dee Brown and
Deron Williams are second and third in assists (4.76 and 4.68 apg),
while Deron Williams is second in assist-turnover margin (2.44).
wild card decision made
CBS has chosen the Minnesota at
Illinois contest for a Sunday, March 9, telecast. Game time is 1
p.m. The Purdue at Michigan game will be televised on ESPN regional
television at 3:30 p.m. Central time on Saturday, March 8.
Naismith Coach of the Year finalist
For the fourth consecutive year, Bill
Self is one of 25 finalists for the Naismith National College Coach
of the Year Award. He is the only Big Ten coach on the list of
time out -- Illinois 82, Michigan 79
Brian Cook scored a game-high 26 and
Roger Powell added 18 in an 82-79 victory over Michigan at Ann
Arbor. Both teams came out hot in the first half, with the Illini
shooting 50 percent and the Wolverines shooting 56 percent from the
field. Michigan was the first opponent in 18 halves to shoot at
least 50 percent from the field against the Illini in a half. Dee
Brown tossed in a floating 12-footer with 1:24 to go to give the
Illini a one-point lead and fed Augustine for a layup with 34
seconds remaining to make the score 79-76. Three free throws by
Roger Powell and Deron Williams extended the lead and allowed the
Illini to post their third Big Ten road win of the season.
The Illini are contending for a Big Ten
title with a majority of playing time coming from underclassmen. Of
a possible 125 starts this season, 71 have come from freshmen and 26
from sophomores, with only 28 coming from seniors Brian Cook and
2002-03 starts by class (minutes
Seniors: 28 (1,547 minutes played, 30.9
Juniors: 0 (0 minutes played, 0
Sophomores: 26 (1,220 minutes played,
Freshmen: 71 (2,233 minutes played,
defense is tops
After 25 games this season, Illinois
opponents are shooting just 37.8 percent from the field, including
just 28.7 percent from 3-point range. The Illini rank second in the
nation (as of Feb. 24) in field-goal defense percentage. Only three
opponents have shot better than 45 percent from the field on the
The 37.8 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 28.7 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 13 of its last 19
opponents to under 40 percent shooting from the field and has a
total of 15 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 is second in 3-point defense percentage and scoring defense, allowing opponents an average of just
In the latest national statistics (as
of Feb. 24) compiled by the NCAA, Illinois ranks second in
field-goal defense percentage and seventh in scoring margin (plus
14.3), while ranking 14th in scoring defense (60.3).
The 2002-03 Fighting Illini season has
been trademarked with unselfish play. Illinois leads the Big Ten and
ranks third in the nation (as of Feb. 24) in assists per game (18.2
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
10 games and has recorded assists on over 66 percent of its
baskets (456 assists on 682 field goals) on the season.
Guards Dee Brown and Deron Williams
are second and third in the Big Ten in assists with
respective averages of 4.76 and 4.68 per game.
Illinois is averaging 75.1 points per game
this season, outscoring its opponents by an
average of over 14.2 points per. Illinois is shooting 48.9 percent
from the field, ranking 11th in the nation in field-goal percentage
(NCAA Rankings as of Feb. 24), and has shot 50 percent or better in
13-of-25 games this season.
Illinois leads the Big Ten in
field-goal percentage (.489) and scoring margin (plus 14.2) and is second in scoring
average (75.2) and 3-point shooting (.369). 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
(49th nationally as of Feb. 24), while ranking fourth in rebounding
at 7.1 boards per contest. He also ranks 10th in the league in
field-goal shooting (.508) and 11th in free-throw percentage (.805).
Cook has been Illinois' leading scorer 16 times and leading rebounder 15 times in his
23 games this season.
[to top of second column in this article]
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 Wisconsin game with 1,605
career points, sixth on the UI career scoring list and 48 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 14 times.
He's also had at least eight rebounds 10 times.
Cook's best scoring game came against
Wisconsin with a career-high 31 points. Other top games were his 30
points and 26 points versus Michigan; 25 points against both 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
Illinois head coach Bill Self should receive consideration for Big
Ten Coach of the Year after leading the only ranked conference team
with three freshmen and one sophomore in the starting lineup. After
winning Big Ten titles in his first two seasons, Self posted his
200th career win Feb. 22 against Northwestern and tied the Illini
record as quickest to 70 wins at Illinois. Self is the only Big Ten
coach on the list of 25 finalists for Naismith National College
Coach of the Year.
Illinois began the week ranked No. 14
in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, extending its streak to 55
consecutive polls in which the Illini have been ranked, including
every poll during Bill Self's tenure. Illinois is also ranked No. 14
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 (33.9 average). He has
scored in double figures in 14 games and is second on the team in
scoring, averaging 12.1 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 4.76 per game and also leads the league with an
assist-turnover ratio of 2.53. He ranks 19th in the Big Ten in
scoring at 12.1 points per game. One of the quickest guards in
America, Brown's average of 1.80 steals per game leads the team and ranks
third in the
Through 14 Big Ten games, Brown has
totaled 68 assists with only 21 turnovers, leading the conference
with an assist-turnover ratio of 3.24 in league play.
In conference games only, Brown is
tied for the league lead in assists and leads the league in steals
and assist-turnover ratio.
Among the top freshmen in the league,
he ranks among the top four in assists (first), 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.
Michigan's Daniel Horton was
three-of-17 from the field (seven points) with two assists and seven
turnovers on Jan. 29. On March 1, Horton was four-of 17 from the
field with five assists, five turnovers and 12 points.
Williams joins Brown in all-freshman backcourt
Dee Brown and Deron Williams 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 33.9
per game, but Williams is third at 27.1 minutes. Williams is
averaging 6.4 points, is just two assists behind Brown for the team lead with 117 and is tied for second on the team in steals with
32. He ranks second in the Big Ten in assist-turnover ratio at 2.44
and is tied with Brown for third in assists with an average of 4.68.
Air Rog takes off
Sophomore Roger Powell returned to the
starting lineup with a bang over the last two weeks with strong performances against Michigan
State, Northwestern, Indiana and Michigan, scoring at least 18 points in wins
over the Wildcats, Hoosiers and Wolverines.
After starting the first nine games of
the season, Powell suffered a toe injury against Memphis and sat out
the next two games. A slow return from the injury pushed back his
progress before a strong stretch of play beginning at Michigan State
on Feb. 2.
Last week, Powell had 10 points and
seven rebounds in the 70-40 win over Michigan State and a
then-career-high 20 points and four rebounds in the victory over
Against Indiana, Powell set a new career high
with 22 points and grabbed seven boards, making nine-of-13 shots.
In the win at Michigan, Powell had
18 points and seven rebounds. In the last four games, he has
combined to make 27-of-40 (.675) field goals in the four wins and
now ranks second in the Big Ten in field-goal shooting at 60.7
percent (82-135). Powell ranks fourth on the team with an average of
8.8 points. In Big Ten play, Powell leads the league in field-goal
shooting at 65.2 percent.
3 -- Sean Harrington
Senior Sean Harrington has been hot
from behind the arc this season. He has made 54-of-122 treys,
leading the Big Ten in 3-point field-goal percentage at
44.3 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 56
assists and has just 22 turnovers, for an assist-to-turnover ratio
of 2.54. He is third on the team with 25 steals. In games played at
the Assembly Hall, Harrington is 33-65 (.508) from 3-point range.
Harrington ranks fourth on the UI career
list with 181 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 third in the
Big Ten in field-goal percentage, shooting 60.3 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
5.9 boards. He has been Illinois' top rebounder in seven games,
highlighted by his 12-rebound performance against Penn State.
Augustine ranks 13th in the Big Ten in rebounding at 5.9 per game
and 13th in blocked shots at .96 per game.
In Big Ten play only, Augustine
ranks second to Roger Powell in field-goal shooting at 59.3 percent.
The Illinois bench has been productive
this season, averaging 18.9 points and 8.8 rebounds, while limiting
the opponents' bench to 15.6 points and 9.1 rebounds. Illinois'
bench is outscoring the opponents' bench by 3.3 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
6-4, Northwestern 4-2
11-18, Indiana 16-8
19-4, at Michigan 7-2
Total 473-220, opponents 390-228
[Provided by Kent Brown,
assistant athletics director and
sports information director,
University of Illinois]