CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- This was not the smooth, methodical
effort that Illinois became known for last season.
The 17th-ranked Illini beat South Dakota State 90-65 Friday
night, but they had to overcome some sloppy play to do it.
Illinois committed 20 turnovers, a number reached only twice
during its 39-game run to the national title game last April. But
with three starters gone from a lineup that started 42 consecutive
games together, the new Illini are still getting to know each other
on the court.
"I think we hurried at times," Illinois coach Bruce Weber
said. "I think guys were trying to make plays instead of letting
the defense make mistakes and taking advantage of it when they
Brown scored 19 points and James Augustine had 18 points and 14
rebounds as Illinois (1-0) won its 22nd consecutive home game. But
the turnovers have to go, said Brown who committed a team-high six
"We've got to take care of the basketball," he said. "I think
that was one of our biggest strengths last year."
Champaign native Steve Holdren had the best game of his career,
leading the Jackrabbits (1-2) with 28 points and six rebounds.
"It was fun to get out in front of all my friends and family,
but I'm a little upset with the outcome," he said. "I wanted to
come in here and compete and we didn't really do that, I don't
"They're just so big and for us not to have those two guys on
the floor and play small like we did, it just doesn't give us much
of a shot," said coach Scott Nagy, a Champaign native himself who
was a graduate assistant for Illinois' 1989 Final Four team.
Augustine and Shaun Pruitt, who scored 15 points, were able to
have their way inside with Beran and Berte limited to a combined 38
minutes on the court.
"We obviously had the size," Augustine said. "We want to get
our inside guys touches so we can kick it back outside to the
guards. The guards did a good job of getting it in there, making
But while there bursts of brilliance, there also were moments of
"There were points in the first half where two bigs would just
go stand in the post and that's not what we want," Augustine said.
South Dakota State led twice early, but Illinois used an 8-0 run
to take a 15-10 lead with 14:41 to go in the first half. Even
though the Jackrabbits scored the next five points to tie the
score, Illinois never trailed again.
The Illini put the game away with a 13-4 run to close out the
first half after South Dakota State closed a 10-point Illinois lead
to 33-28 with 6:29 to go on Holdren's 3-pointer and a layup by
Augustine and Brown hit free throws, then Pruitt got a basket
and Calvin Brock had a pair of free throws to give the Illini a
38-29 lead with 3:15 to go. Illinois led 46-32 at the break.
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