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Updated: Saturday, December 14, 2002 4:41 PM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(14) Illinois 70, Temple 54
TEMPLE OWLS
Temple Owls
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ILLINOIS FIGHTING ILLINI
Illinois Fighting Illini
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CHICAGO (Ticker) -- Brian Cook matched a career best with 25 points and grabbed a season-high 11 rebounds as 14th-ranked Illinois remained unbeaten with a 70-54 victory over struggling Temple.

Cook, who was named Big Ten Conference Player of the Week after averaging 20 points and six rebounds in victories over North Carolina and Arkansas, made 8-of-16 shots as Illinois (7-0) extended its best start in seven years. In the 1995-96 season, Illinois went 9-0 before finishing ninth in the Big Ten and 18-13 overall.

Although the Fighting Illini have posted six double-digit victories, they face their first real test against 10th-ranked Missouri at St. Louis next Saturday.

"I'm not going to be negative because I'm happy we won and I thought we playeed well in stretches - but right now - that's what we are, a team that plays well in stretches," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "We're not a team yet that has played for 40 minutes. We're a spurt team.

"That's kind of where we are right now. I think we have to be more consistent over the entire game. We're just not quite mature enough and experienced enough to put the whole thing together. But we're not that far off."

Point guard Dee Brown was scoreless in the first half, but contributed 13 points after the break as the Fighting Illini extended a 30-27 lead and improved to 17-6 all time at the United Center.

"I came out flat," said Brown, who grew up near Chicago. "I didn't think I played well. I had four turnovers. I just didn't come out and play well. I wasn't listening to the coach. He got on me in the locker room and he told me to pick it up and play."

The energetic Brown got untracked in the second half, when he hit 5-of-8 shots and had a pair of baskets on the break as the Illini got their transition game going. Illinois held a 13-6 advantage in fast-break points and outscored the Owls in the paint, 28-16.

Cook and Brown combined to go 11-of-11 from the line, where Illinois shot 90.5 percent (19-of-21).

David Hawkins matched his season high with 22 points for Temple (1-6), which is off to the worst start in school history. The Owls played their second straight game without coach John Chaney, who is recovering from pneumonia.

Hawkins made 6-of-14 shots, but the rest of the team was under 25 percent (11-of-45). Temple fell to 3-3 all-time against Illinois.

"You go so far with defense, but you've got to be able to put the ball in the basket," Temple assistant Nate Blackwell said. "We had some opportunities - some wide-open shots - they just didn't put the ball in the basket."


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