Huskies and Illini meet in San Diego
(Sports Network) – The Big Ten meets the Pac-10 in a thrilling second round
matchup, as the Illinois Fighting Illini clash with the Washington Huskies
this evening at Cox Arena.
The Illini moved into the second round with a hard-fought 78-69 victory over
the Air Force Falcons on Thursday night. With the win, the Illini pushed
their NCAA Tournament mark to an impressive 38-26. Illinois closed out the
regular-season with a 25-6 overall record, and although the team fell
61-56 to a tough Michigan State team in the Big Ten tourney, the Fighting
Illini were still able to capture the fourth-seed. A victory over the Huskies
in this contest would send Illinois to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive
As for the Huskies, they posted an impressive 75-61 victory over Utah State in
the opening round. It was just the sixth time in 13 trips to the NCAA
Tournament that Washington has advance past the first round. The Huskies
entered the tournament as a fifth-seed thanks to their 24-6 record in the
regular-season. The Huskies finished the regular-season one game behind UCLA
in the Pac 10 standings, posting a 13-5 ledger. Unfortunately, the Huskies
suffered an 84-73 setback to Oregon in the quarterfinal round of the Pac 10
In regards to the all-time series between the two schools, the Illini hold a
slim 3-2 advantage over the Huskies. The last time these two teams met was
back in 1991, as Illinois posted a 76-55 win over Washington in the title game
of the Illini Classic.
Throughout the season, the Huskies have been dominant at the offensive end of
the court and that dominance continued in the opening round of the tournament,
as Washington defeated Utah State by 14 points. The Huskies shot a solid 47.5
percent from the field in the victory, and that included a 12-of-27 showing
from long range. The team only collected 22 rebounds in the win, but the
Huskies countered their low rebound total by committing just seven turnovers.
Pac-10 Player of the Year Brandon Roy was sensational in the victory for
Washington, pouring in 28 points, while shooting 11-of-19 from the floor.
Jamaal Williams came off the bench to add 15 points for Washington, while
Bobby Jones and Justin Dentmon both tallied 11 points.
Roy continues to lead the Huskies on the year, as the guard is averaging a
whopping 20.2 ppg to go along with 5.6 rpg and 4.2 apg. Roy also has 43
steals and 25 blocks on the year, proving he can do it all on the
basketball court. Williams and Jones have also made solid contributions this
season, as Williams is posting 13.5 ppg, while Jones is producing 10.5 ppg to
go along with 4.9 rpg.
As for the Illini, their opening round game did not go as smoothly, in fact
Illinois found themselves in a dog fight with a gritty Air Force squad.
However in the end, Illinois was too strong at the offensive end. The Illini
leading scorer on the season, Dee Brown, struggled in the victory, shooting
just 1-of-7 from the field, finishing the game with only eight points. Despite
the poor shooting performance, Brown did help in other ways, grabbing eight
boards, while dishing out 10 assists. With Brown shooting a cold rock, Jamar
Smith came off the bench to proved Illinois with a spark, as the guard scored
a team-high 20 points, while connecting on 6-of-9 attempts from long range.
Brian Randle added 15 points and seven rebounds, while James Augustine tallied
10 points. The Illini shot a sizzling 58.0 percent from the field in the
contest, and dominated the glass 28-15, holding Air Force to just one
offensive rebound. It was an impressive victory for Illinois when you consider
the team’s top two players combined for just 18 points.
On the season, Brown and Augustine were the only two players averaging double
figures, as Brown is scoring 14.2 ppg to go with 5.8 apg, while Augustine is
posting over 13.4 ppg and 9.1 rpg.