Illinois belts Buckeyes

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 14, 2005

The Associated Press

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. - Not even a sore foot could keep James Augustine from going to the basket against Ohio State.

''It's the first game of the Big Ten season. You can't just go out there and quit,'' the Illinois center said.

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Augustine tied his career high with 21 points, leading top-ranked Illini to an 84-65 win over Ohio State on Wednesday night.

Augustine limped off the court in the first half after having his foot stepped on, but came back to shoot 8-for-10 shots and lead the unbeaten Illini to their 15th straight victory. He also grabbed 10 rebounds and helped hold Ohio State's leading scorer, Terrance Dials, to just seven points.

''Finally, he got some confidence and wants to shoot the ball,'' teammate Deron Williams said. ''We just need him to keep doing that, we need him to play like that every game.''

Augustine entered the game averaging just six shots, but against the Buckeyes he found himself with layups and open looks from 10 feet in.

''I think we gave him a lot of easy baskets,'' Dials said. ''Our big guys were hedging but we weren't recovering quick enough. He got a lot of easy buckets and he converted.''

Deron Williams scored 14 points and had eight assists for Illinois, while Dee Brown scored 13 and Roger Powell Jr. scored 12 and grabbed six rebounds.

The Illini led by only six at halftime, but used an 13-7 run at the start of the second half to build their lead to 12 with 14:14 to go. Ohio State (11-3) never got closer than seven after that, and Illinois outscored the Buckeyes 19-5 in the final 10:20.

Illinois held the Buckeyes to just eight field goals after halftime and outrebounded them 39-23.

''They made a couple adjustments (at halftime) and I think we probably wore down a little bit,'' said Buckeyes coach Thad Matta, who coached his first Big Ten game.

''I got indoctrinated into the Big Ten tonight,'' he said.

Ohio State had won its last four games against No. 1-ranked teams, the last in 1993 against Indiana. The Buckeyes led for 7:11 of the first half, thanks in part to Ivan Harris' four 3-pointers. But Illinois coach Bruce Weber decided to put Williams on Harris in the second half and he didn't score again.

''Now, they didn't get any angles on us, which they did in the first half,'' Weber said. ''And I think our guys did a nice job on Dials. He never did get into a rhythm.''

Dials came into the game averaging more than 16 points, but the Illini held him to just two field goals.

Illinois, averaging 21 3-point attempts. was just 5-of-15 from the perimeter. The Illini scored 17 of their 32 baskets on layups and had seven more baskets inside of 15 feet.

At the same time, the Illini defense forced Ohio State to take 21 3-point shots and the Buckeyes scored six points from inside 15 feet in the second half.

Tony Stockman scored 19 points and Harris had 14 for the Buckeyes.

Ohio State led by as many as five points in the first half, but Illinois took the lead for good with 4:07 to go and was up 46-40 at the break.