STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Brian Cook, the Big Ten's leading
scorer, didn't get to play much for (No. 15 ESPN/USA Today, No. 18 AP) Illinois on Saturday.
Turns out, the Illini didn't need him.
"James had a heck of a game,'' Illinois coach Bill Self said.
"James was great.''
The Illini (14-3, 4-2 Big Ten) had lost their last two
conference road games.
The loss dropped Penn State (5-11) to 0-5 in Big Ten play, the
worst start since joining the conference in 1992.
Illinois had to play most of the game without Cook, who came in
leading the Big Ten with 22.6 points per game. Cook, who scored
four of his 11 points late in the game, sat the last 9:55 of the
first half after picking up a personal foul and a technical foul.
He got his fourth foul with 12:06 to play and sat for almost nine
minutes. Cook played just 17 minutes.
"With (Cook) out of the game, he's our main scorer, Nick and I
had to both step it up,'' Augustine said. "Luckily, it was my game
Illinois went back up by six on baskets by Augustine and Dee
Brown, and the game took a critical turn when the Illini came up
with a loose ball and Sean Harrington hit a 3-pointer from the
right corner for a 55-46 lead. Augustine would convert a
three-point play as the Illini went on a 14-0 run to go up 62-46
with 7:31 left.
"What's encouraging to me is we did that without Brian,'' Self
said. "We got ourselves in a jam without Brian, and we bailed
ourselves out without Brian, and I think that's a positive.''
Penn State coach Jerry Dunn complained that Smith should have
been called for a foul, saying he held Robert Summers while going
for the loose ball.
"The Rob Summers play was really critical,'' Dunn said. "He
grabbed his jersey, and that's something that should be
Luther Head added 13 points for Illinois, and Brown had 11
Brandon Watkins led Penn State with 18 points, DeForrest Riley
had 13 and Chambliss 11.
Fouls plagued the Illini throughout the game. Augustine fouled
out with 5:23 left, and Smith played the last 5:58 with four fouls.
After hitting three early 3-pointers and taking an 11-9 lead
with 16:11 left in the first half, Penn State's offense fell apart,
going 11:23 without a field goal while Illinois went on a 24-3 run.
But Cook picked up the personal and technical and went to the
bench with 9:55 left in the half. Watkins had two layups and a
three-point play in the final minutes to pull the Nittany Lions
with 38-29 at halftime.