Brown leads Illini over FDU
Indianapolis, IN (Sports Network) – Dee Brown scored 19 points and sparked a
key run to begin the second half, as Illinois defeated Fairleigh-Dickinson,
67-55, in first-round action of the Chicago bracket in the NCAA Tournament at
the RCA Dome.
Luther Head added 13 points for the top-seeded Illini (33-1), who will next
face ninth-seeded Nevada in the second round on Saturday. The Wolf Pack beat
eighth-seeded Texas earlier in the night, 71-67.
James Augustine added 11 points and 15 rebounds for Illinois, which has won
four in a row after having its 29-game winning streak halted in its regular-
season finale at Ohio State. The Big Ten Tournament champions entered the NCAA
Tournament as the top-ranked team in the nation.
Gordon Klaiber had a game-high 24 points to lead the Knights (20-13), who won
the NEC Tournament to earn the automatic berth and their first NCAA Tournament
appearance since 1998.
Illinois never trailed in the game, scoring seven of the first nine points and
taking an 11-5 lead after Augustine’s dunk with 4 1/2 minutes elapsed.
The Illini later extended to a 30-20 advantage on back-to-back Head three-
pointers, the final one coming with 4:14 on the clock, but the Knights
answered by recording 11 of the final 13 points of the half to draw within
32-31 at the break.
Tamien Trent scored the final five points of the half, with his three-pointer
at the buzzer making it a one-point affair.
That would be as close as Fairleigh-Dickinson would get, however, as Brown
sparked a 14-2 spurt to open the second half with 10 points. Brown converted a
three-point play to start the stanza and ended the run with seven straight
points, hitting a three-pointer with 6:02 elapsed for a 46-34 cushion.
“It’s always important to come out and get it going in the first five minutes
(of the second half),” said Brown. “We came out with a lot of energy and that
really helped us.”
Later, eight straight points by Illinois, capped by a Head layup with 5:15
remaining, increased the lead to 58-39 and the Illini cruised to the finish
despite the close score.
“Obviously, we weren’t as sharp as we wanted to be,” said Illinois head coach
Bruce Weber. “We built a lead in the first half, let it slip, then built it
back up in the second half. Our guys know we’re going to have to play better
if we’re going to advance in this tournament.”
Trent ended with 11 points for the Knights, who are winless in their four NCAA
“I’m not sure about this whole 16 and 1 seed,” said FDU head caoch Tom Green,
“but somewhere down the road a 16 will knock off a 1.”
FDU went 5-of-11 from the free throw line…Illinois went 15-of-21 from the
charity stripe…Brown hit 7-of-10 shots from the field…Illinois improved to
33-25 in the tourney…The Illini are 3-1 in the tourney under Weber.