Illinois turns back Georgetown

Friday, December 10, 2004

WASHINGTON -- In the first half, Illinois trailed for 11 minutes, 20 seconds, longer than it had in its first seven games combined. In the second half, the Fighting Illini were in control buzzer-to-buzzer in a solid defense of their No. 1 ranking.

Roger Powell scored 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting, and Illinois shot 65 percent in the second half Thursday night to pull away for a 74-59 victory over Georgetown.

Illinois (8-0) is two-thirds of the way to holding a No. 1 ranking for consecutive weeks for the first time in school history. The Illini lost their first game the previous two times they gained the top spot. This time, they've held their own with a 78-59 win over Chicago State on Monday and Thursday's win over Georgetown, with a game against Oregon in Chicago on Saturday still to come.

James Augustine added 15 points, and Luther Head had 13 points and five assists. Illinois finished with 20 assists, just short of its league-leading 22.3 average.

Freshman Jeff Green had 20 points and six rebounds to lead Georgetown (3-2), which had won three straight after an opening loss to Temple.

Illinois had trailed for just 10:12 out of 280 minutes in its first seven games, but the usually hot-shooting Illini were cold early against the Hoyas. Entering the game shooting 52 percent from the field for the season, they missed nine of their first 13 shots.

The Hoyas were up 22-17 when Dee Brown's steal and layup started a 14-2 half-ending run. Powell scored seven points in the run, including a three-point play and two layups, to put Illinois ahead 31-24 at the break.

A pair of 3-pointers by Head early in the second half put the Illini firmly in control. Illinois made seven of its first nine shots in the half, and the Hoyas never threatened again.

Georgetown, in a rebuilding year under new coach John Thompson III, was trying to beat a No. 1 team for the first time since Patrick Ewing led an 85-69 victory over Chris Mullen and St. John's in 1985.

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