Illini Roll To Victory in Final Exhibition Game

<p>Although the Illinois Fighting Illini played a team with no recognizable names, it was easy to see that they are ready for the season to begin. Before an Assembly Hall crowd of 14,151, the Illini coasted to an 83-63 win over the Spotlight Jammers in their final exhibition game on Monday night.

The Illini came out of the gates quick, starting the game on a 7-2 run, highlighted by a Dee Brown three-pointer and lay-up off of a steal. The Illini defense created several turnovers early, leading to several easy buckets.

The Illini were quiet for a time until about the eleven minute mark, when a highlight reel play excited the crowd. Jack Ingram fired a baseball pass to Deron Williams, who touch passed it to Brian Randle, who then touch passed it to James Augustine for the dunk. Shortly thereafter, Randle was at it again, putting back a free throw and a missed jumper.

The Jammers stayed with the Illini for most of the first half, much like last week's game. The Illini finished strong with threes by Randle (11 points) and Brown (15 points, 6 assists). Still they only lead 41-36 at the half. Both teams shot over 50% for the first twenty minutes.

The second half was a different story for the Illini. They came out with the energy Bruce Weber was looking for. The defense was the big story for the Illini, as they surrounded the ball effectively and played tight man defense, holding the Jammers to 30% shooting in the second half. The Illini tallied four blocks for the game and changed many other shots.

The game was 58-52 with 7:48 to play. The Jammers were fighting, but the Fighting Illini turned their game up a notch. Consecutive dunks by James Augustine (18 points, 9 rebounds) and another lay-up made a quick 6-0 run. Another Augustine dunk and Warren Carter put back created a 12-0 run and a timeout for the Jammers. Shortly thereafter, Roger Powell (12 points, 8 rebounds) scored five quick points and Carter (7 points, 8 rebounds) connected on a three-point play. A 21-7 run put the Jammers away.

The Illini scored 25 points in the last eight minutes of the game to seal the victory, in which there were four Illini in double figures- Augustine, Powell, Brown and Randle. Deron Williams added 8 assists.

The Illini outrebounded the Jammers 42-26, including 13-8 on the offensive glass. Overall, the Illini played extremely well. All facets of the game were working, and the motion offense showed its promise, judging by the 53.8% shooting clip for the game. The energy brought forth by the Illini in the second half ran the Jammers off the floor.

The Illini looked like a championship team in the second half the way they took control of the game and played defense. Their bright orange jerseys became a blur. The Illini are ready to start the season this Saturday against Western Illinois. If tonight was this good, one can only imagine how the team will be once they get a few games under their belt.

NOTE: Luther Head and Aaron Spears sat out again due to their rules violations…Richard McBride was held out of the game with an injured foot.

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