CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- Brian Cook makes his season debut for No. 25 Illinois when it continues its ultra-soft early schedule with a visit by Western Illinois.
Cook missed the first two games of the season - along with reserve guard Jerrance Howard - for participating in an unsanctioned summer tournament. The 6-10 forward, a co-Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year, averaged 13.4 points and 6.6 rebounds a year go.
Illinois (2-0) has not needed Cook with blowout victories over Lehigh and Arkansas-Pine Bluff to start its season. The Fighting Illini won those contest by a combined 87 points.
The Illini have received some impressive performances from some young players. Sophomore Roger Powell is averaging 16 points and freshman guard Dee Brown has turned in back-to-back 14-point performances. Freshman Kyle Wilson is averaging 12.5 points.
Illinois will have to avoid looking ahead to Tuesday's meeting with unbeaten North Carolina.
Western Illinois (1-1) lost its first game with an 82-59 loss at Hampton on Monday. Shawn Mason scored 14 points to lead the Leathernecks.
The Illini have won all three meetings, including a 98-62 rout last season.