- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 2004

The nation’s No.1 team turned its many weapons on the young Georgetown Hoyas last night.

The Hoyas stayed with Illinois for the first 20 minutes. However, Georgetown was unable to withstand the Illini’s second-half onslaught. Senior forward Roger Powell Jr. scored a team-high 19 points as Illinois surged to a 74-59 victory before 12,401 at MCI Center.

If it wasn’t Powell doing damage inside, it was 6-foot-3 guard Luther Head scoring in spurts all over the floor. When Head decided to let someone else take over, 6-foot-10 junior forward James Augustine turned in a strong post game.

The Illini (8-0) outscored Georgetown 43-35 in the second half. Head finished with 13 points on five of nine shooting. Augustine added 15 points with six rebounds, two assists and three steals.

Freshman forward Jeff Green paced the Hoyas (3-2) with a career-high 20 points plus six rebounds. Early foul trouble limited Georgetown’s prize newcomer to just eight minutes in the first half, when he had only two points and one rebound.

“We’ve got to figure out how to play when he is not in the game,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said.

Powell, who is an ordained minister in the Pentecostal church, is considered an undersized power forward at 6-6. His effort wasn’t the best scoring game for Illinois’ superb guards, but behind Powell and Augustine, the Illini’s big players overcame the lack of scoring from the backcourt.

“That [inside] was what they were giving us, and we should have taken it in the first half early, but we took the 3s — off-balance 3s, not rhythm 3s like we’ve been getting,” Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. “Finally, we called some plays, some sets, we got some easy baskets and then our guys started realizing we got their [big players off their game]. I don’t know if they don’t deal with that in practice or something because they run a different type of offense.”

For most of the first half, the Hoyas traded blows with the Illini. In fact, Illinois trailed longer in the first half (11:20) than it had in its first seven games combined. Coming in, Illinois had trailed for just 10:12 out of 280 minutes this season.

“I don’t want any moral victories,” said Georgetown forward and Big East scoring leader Brandon Bowman, who had a season-low seven points on 2-for-8 shooting. “The game is 40 minutes. They won by 15 points. It doesn’t matter how you start, it matters how you finish. What we did in the first half is irrelevant, because we lost the game.”

Georgetown’s biggest lead was just five points at 22-17 after junior forward Bowman swished a 3-pointer from the left wing. Maybe that served as the Illini’s wake-up call because the Big Ten power finished the half with authority. Illinois closed the half on a 14-2 run for a 31-24 lead. A combination of good Hoyas halfcourt defense and the Illini’s uncharacteristic cold shooting kept the game close.

The Illini entered the game shooting an impressive 52.2 percent from the floor, seventh in the NCAA. The Hoyas forced the Illini to play halfcourt basketball, and Illinois had trouble finding its shot early in the half.

The first half saw the Illini shoot just 41.9 percent (13 of 31), mostly because of ill-advised 3-pointers. The Illini made just two of nine from beyond the arc (22.2 percent) in the first half.

But things started to change in the last five minutes before intermission. Powell, the reigning Big Ten player of the week, scored seven of Illinois’ 14 points during the first-half closing run.

Illinois highly-touted junior guard combination of Dee Brown and Deron Williams combined for just 15 points but handed out 11 assists. The Illini assisted on 20 of their 28 baskets and went 13-for-16 from the free throw line.

Freshman point guard Jonathan Wallace was Georgetown’s only other double-digit scorer beside Green, finishing with 10 points.

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