<p>The Illinois basketball team was finally able to play someone other than themselves Sunday in an exhibition match-up against a team of Illinois All-Stars. The first tune-up for the regular season was much closer than anticipated at the half. Not until the second half did Illinois run away with the game and win 91-66 in front of a crowd of 14,325 at Assembly Hall.

The Fighting Illini came out firing as Deron Williams, who finished with 16 points, nailed a 3-pointer for the first bucket of the game. Afterward, the two teams played sloppy basketball with many fouls and turnovers. Bruce Weber tried to get his team fired up by calling for more energy from his squad on several occasions, until Dee Brown (26 points) hit a three pointer and the Illini hit a 5-0 run.

Shortly thereafter, Brown hit Roger Powell (6 points) with an alley-oop to get the crowd going and the team going. Brown would follow with a personal 5-0 run working the ball to the basket. However, the Illini could not pull away before halftime. The All-Stars, headed by former Illini Sergio McClain, kept the game close, shooting 48% in the first half to 44% for the Illini. The All-Stars trailed at the half 39-38.

The second half was a complete turnaround for the Illini, as they started to run up and down the floor and take control of the game. The Illini came out with a 12-0 run to start the half, with threes by Nick Smith (12 points) and Deron Williams. There was much more energy in the second half, as the defense took it up a notch and the intensity reappeared.

The Illini continued to rain threes, hitting 8-11 in the second half. Strong inside play by Jack Ingram (4 points) and James Augustine (8 points, 12 rebounds) helped the Illini take full control of the game.

The spark of the night was Dee Brown. He dished out 7 assists to go with his team high 26 points, including 5-9 on three-pointers. The backcourt of Illinois combined to score 42 points and shoot 50%.

Guard Brian Taylor, who had 14 points, and forward Marlin Maxley, who scored 13, led the Illinois All-Stars on the night.

Freshmen Brian Randle, Warren Carter, and Richard McBride all saw significant minutes, as they fight to land a spot in Bruce Weber's rotation for the season. McBride led the freshmen with 8 points on 3-4 shooting. The Illini finished the game shooting 52.4% including 52% from the three-point arc.

Illinois took some time to get going in this game, something they cannot afford to do this season. Illinois will have to work on the energy to start the game if they are to be successful. Although this was the first real game of the season, the Illini were able to get by without any major problems. The Illini have one more exhibition matchup November 17 against the Spotlight Jammers at Assembly Hall. They start the regular season at home November 22 against Western Illinois.

Motion offense on paper

Coach Weber teaching the motion offense

Team huddle the start of the 2003-04 season

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