Illini take on Flames Tuesday night in Chicago

<p>#21/19 Illinois (7-2) vs. Illinois-Chicago (9-3) <p>WBBM-Ch. 2 (Chicago) & WCIA-Ch. 3 (Champaign) Television <p>7 p.m. Dec. 30, 2003 Chicago, Ill. United Center (21,711)

Illinois-Chicago Head Coach: Jimmy Collins

Overall Record: 116-104/.527 (8th year)

At Illinois-Chicago: Same

Vs. Illinois: 0-3

Assistant Coaches: Mark Coomes, Lynn Mitchem, Dave Donnelly

Series History: Illinois-Chicago

Illinois leads the all-time series 10-1 over Illinois-Chicago. The Illini have won the last eight games in the series, including the most recent match-up, a 77-64 win Dec. 21, 2001 in Rosemont, Ill. UIC's lone win in the series came on Nov. 29, 1990, a 71-60 victory at Assembly Hall. This is the first meeting between the two programs at the United Center.

The United Center: Home Away from Home While games played at the United Center count as neutral site in the record book, for the Illini the UC is a home away from home. Tuesday's game against Illinois-Chicago marks the 29th game the Illini have played in the UC, dating back to the 1994-95 season. Illinois owns an all-time record of 22-6 at the United Center, including nine straight wins.

In-State Streaking Illinois-Chicago is the second of three in-state non-conference games the Illini are playing this season. Illinois defeated Western Illinois 94-66 at the Assembly Hall on Nov. 22 and hosts Illinois State on Jan. 3. Illinois is 100-12 all-time against in-state schools in non-conference play. Illinois' last loss to a non-Big Ten in-state school came Nov. 29, 1990 to UIC, a current streak of 28 consecutive wins. Since 1974, Illinois is 45-3 against non-conference in-state schools.

UIC Staff has Ties to Illini Illinois-Chicago head coach Jimmy Collins spent 13 seasons as an Illini assistant coach under Lou Henson from 1984-96. UIC assistant coach Mark Coomes was a graduate assistant at Illinois in 1976 (Henson's first year) and joined the UI staff as a full-time assistant from 1986-94 (nine years). UIC director of basketball operations Andrew Haring was a four-year manager at Illinois from 1989-92, serving as head manager as a senior.

Big Ten Leaders

Illinois has four players among the Big Ten's Top 20 leading scorers. Roger Powell ranks 11th in scoring (13.7 avg.), while Deron Williams is 16th (12.9), Dee Brown is 17th (12.6) and James Augustine is 20th (12.1). * Augustine ranks second in the Big Ten in field goal percentage (.688) while Powell is fourth (.630). * Williams leads the Big Ten in assists (6.6 avg.), while Brown is fifth (5.0 avg.). * Augustine ranks second in rebounding (9.4 avg.) and is also second in offensive rebounding with 3.2 per game. * Williams would lead in free-throw percentage (12-13, .923), but lacks the minimum number of made free throws (2.0 per game). * Williams ranks 10th in steals (1.7 avg.) * Augustine ranks sixth in blocked shots (1.3 avg.) * Brown is fourth with 2.2 three-point FGs per game, while Williams is ninth (1.7 avg.). * Brown ranks fifth in assist/turnover ratio (1.96) while Williams is seventh (1.84). * Illinois leads the Big Ten in assists (18.78 avg.) * Illinois ranks second in scoring (78.7 avg.), scoring margin (+13.9 avg.), field goal percentage (.471), field goal percentage defense (.382), steals (8.56 avg.), offensive rebounding (13.89 avg.) and defensive rebounding (26.67 avg.). * Illinois ranks third in assist/turnover ratio (1.26).

Top 25 Streak Continues Illinois is ranked 19th in the current (Dec. 22) ESPN/USA Today Coaches' Poll, extending its streak to 65 consecutive polls in which the Illini have been ranked. Illinois is ranked No. 21 in the AP Top 25 poll. Illinois had a school record-streak of 30 straight polls in the Top 10 snapped in January, 2002, but has never dropped out of the Coaches' Top 25 the last three-plus seasons.

Last Time Out Illinois defeated Missouri 71-70 in the annual "Braggin' Rights" game at the Savvis Center in St. Louis on Dec. 23, marking Illinois' fourth straight win over Mizzou. The Illini never trailed on the evening, opening up a 21-point lead in the first half and withstanding a comeback by the 11th-ranked Tigers in the second half. The game was tied 67-67 with under one minute left when Nick Smith fed the ball to James Augustine under the basket for a go-ahead layup. Smith then came up with a steal at the defensive end. Dee Brown's two free throws with 18 seconds remaining gave the Illini a four-point advantage and sealed the victory. Brown led the Illini with 18 points and six assists while Augustine had his fourth double-double of the season, tallying 14 points and 10 rebounds. Williams has been turning heads with his sensational play to start his sophomore season. He is second on the team in scoring (12.9 ppg) and has scored in double figures in five of seven games, setting a career-high in points in three-consecutive games up to the Arkansas game, but setting a career-high with 10 assists against the Razorbacks. His scoring average so far is more than six points better than his freshman average of 6.3 points. He scored a career-high 22 points vs. North Carolina and is shooting 45 percent from the field (33-73) and 40 percent from 3-point land (12-30). While his scoring has improved dramatically, Williams remains an unselfish player with the ball in his hands. He leads the Big Ten in assists with 46 (6.6 apg), handing out eight assists in the season opener vs. Western Illinois and again against North Carolina before dropping 10 dimes against Arkansas.

Air Rog Leads Illini Scorers Junior Roger Powell leads the Illini in scoring and is second in rebounding, averaging 13.7 points and 5.1 rebounds. He ranks fourth in the Big Ten in field goal percentage, shooting 63 percent from the field (51-81), and is second on the team with 22 offensive rebounds. Powell recorded the first double-double of his Illinois career against Mercer on Nov. 26, scoring 16 points and grabbing a career-high 10 rebounds. He followed up that performance than with another double-double in his next outing vs. Temple. Powell scored 19 points and matched his career high with 10 boards. He then scored a season-high 20 points against North Carolina Dec. 2. Last year in Big Ten play, Powell led the league in field-goal shooting at 64.1 percent and was named to the Big Ten All-Tournament Team after helping the Illini to the title.

Augustine Nearly a Double-Double Man Another member of the heralded Illini sophomore class is James Augustine. Augustine, named to the first-ever Big Ten All-Freshman Team last season, is nearly averaging a double-double with 12.1 points and team-leading 9.4 rebounds per game. His rebounding average ranks second in the Big Ten, and he is also second in the Big Ten in field-goal shooting at 68.8 percent (44-64) and offensive rebounds with 3.2 per game. Augustine has scored at least nine points in eight of nine games, highlighted by a career-high 21 points vs. Memphis Dec. 13. He has had at least nine boards in six games, with a career-high 13 against Western Illinois in the season opener, and has led the team in rebounding six times. Augustine has recorded four double-doubles on the season, including the last game when he had 14 points and 10 boards vs. Missouri. Last year as a freshman, Augustine averaged 7.0 points while shooting 58 percent from the field. He was second on the team behind Brian Cook and 13th in the Big Ten in rebounding, averaging 5.8 boards. He was also 13th in the league in blocked shots. In Big Ten play only, Augustine ranked third in field-goal shooting at 58.6 percent.

McBride Arrives With Deron Williams sidelined as he recovers from his broken jaw, freshman guard Richard McBride will be seeing more playing time. A three-time All-Stater during his high school career in Illinois, McBride sat out the first four games of the season for violating team rules, but has since worked his way into the playing rotation. He exploded for a career-high 22 points in 29 minutes of play vs. Memphis. McBride nailed 6-of-10 from 3-point range, tying the most treys by a Big Ten player this season. He also had career highs of five assists and five rebounds vs. Memphis. McBride kept up his hot shooting vs. Missouri, nailing 3-of-4 three-pointers en route to nine points while also grabbing three steals. In five games on the season, McBride is averaging 6.6 points and 1.6 rebounds. He is shooting 45 percent from 3-point land (9-20).

"Chainsaw" Strengthens UI Frontcourt Nick Smith, a 7-foot-2-inch junior, has started four games this season and is averaging 6.7 points and 4.3 rebounds. He has scored in double figures in three games, with season highs of 13 against Western Illinois and Mercer. Smith also had a 10-point performance vs. Arkansas. Smith came up big and the end of Illinois' win over Missouri Dec. 23. He recorded an assist on James Augustine's layup that gave the Illini a 69-67 lead with under one minute to play and then came up with a steal on Missouri's next possession. Smith finished the game with six points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals. Last year, he put up some impressive numbers off the bench in Big Ten play. In 16 conference games, Smith shot 67.3 percent (33-49) from the field, made 4-of-6 treys, and shot 90.5 percent (19-21) from the free-throw line. Smith averaged 5.9 points and 2.9 rebounds in the league while averaging 18.8 minutes per game. He led the Illini and ranked seventh in the Big Ten with 38 blocked shots. Smith was Illinois' top free throw shooter, making 38-of-44 from the line for 86.4 percent on the season.

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