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Tuesday, Aug. 19

Illini finish European tour with 6-0 record    Send a link to a friend

[AUG. 19, 2003]  VANTAA, Finland -- In handing the Pussihukat Basketball Club a 111-63 decision Monday night, Illinois had five scorers in double figures for the third consecutive game. The victory gives the Fighting Illini a perfect 6-0 record on the trip.

"This was not the strongest team we played during our trip," head coach Bruce Weber said. "We would have liked to have had some stronger opponents, but we played who was on the schedule. The guys kept the focus of building on the improvement we made during the trip. Overall, the trip was very positive. We, as coaches, learned a lot about our players -- not only about their game but as people. On the other hand, they learned about us a coaching staff and what to expect when we get going after classes begin.

"Our players traveled very well and were great representatives of the University of Illinois," Weber continued. "With the great treatment we received at each of our stops, it all adds up to a great trip."

Roger Powell made 11 of 13 shots to lead all scorers with 26 points with 10 rebounds, while Aaron Spears had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds. Illinois used its height advantage to shoot 69 percent from the field while making 45 of 65 shots. The Illini also won the battle of the boards by a 44-28 count.

"We were really able to use our big guys as a huge advantage in the paint," Weber said. "We went into the game wanting to get our big guys more touches on the offensive end, which led to a lot of easy baskets. Once we start playing good competition, that is something we're going to have to do anyway. We showed good balance again with six players scoring in double figures, and we did a better job the last half of the trip in giving up the ball.


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"Aaron Spears was the biggest surprise of the trip to the coaches. He really battled against some of the big guys we faced here. And, over the last two and half games, Nick Smith played like I expected him to. Dee and Deron get a lot of the limelight, and both played well, but Roger and James were both as consistent as anyone on the team over the six games. Luther has the potential to be up there with Dee and Deron -- it's just a matter of consistency -- but this was a great test for him, playing three games in less than 48 hours, from a physical standpoint. He responded very well and told me after the game that he had no pain from the injury that slowed him down last season."

Pussihukat jumped out to a 31-30 lead at the end of the first quarter by making 14 of 18 field goals but scored just 32 points the remainder of the game.

Illini interior players Spears (5-6), James Augustine (1-2), Nick Smith (4-5) and Jack Ingram (6-7) combined to make 16 of 20 shots. Head finished with 15 points and a team-high eight assists and three steals.

Over the six games, Brown led the team with an average of 21.5 points, followed by Powell (17.2), Williams (13.8), Head (12.7) and Augustine (12.7). As a team, the Illini averaged 103.0 points per game while shooting 56 percent from the field.

The team was to leave Helsinki early Tuesday morning and is expected to arrive in Champaign-Urbana late Tuesday afternoon.

[Kent Brown, assistant athletics director,
sports information director, University of Illinois]

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