STATE COLLEGE, Pennsylvania (Ticker) -- Freshman James Augustine snapped out of a slump with a season-high 19 points as No. 15 Illinois halted a two-game Big Ten Conference road losing streak with a 75-63 victory over Penn State.
Illinois (14-3, 4-2 Big Ten) built a 38-29 halftime advantage behind eight points by Augustine, whose previous season high was 17 against Wisconsin on January 11. Since then, the 6-10 forward had totaled only 16 points in three games.
Penn State (5-11, 0-5) made a series of runs in the second half and closed within 48-46 on Sharif Chambliss' 3-pointer with 10:53 remaining. But the Nittany Lions were never able to catch up.
"They missed some shots and we didn't make some plays at the end," Illinois coach Bill Self said. "Some of our best players were out of the game and to give them some credit, they didn't give us some of our crucial plays."
Augustine dropped in a hook 17 seconds later to trigger 14 straight points for the Fighting Illini. He capped the run with a layup and a three-point play for a 62-46 bulge with 7 1/2 minutes remaining.
Brandon Watkins scored 18 points to lead the Nittany Lions, who shot 37.5 percent in the first half. They had trouble from the 3-point arc, connecting on just 26 percent (6-of-23).
Illinois took the lead for good with a 14-0 spurt in the first half that turned around an 11-9 deficit. Sean Harrington and freshman Dee Brown each made 3-pointers in the run.
The Fighting Illini continued to pour it on and scored eight straight points for a 33-14 cushion on Nick Smith's basket with just over five minutes left before halftime.
"We really tried to pressure their perimeter guys especially with their offensive spacing," Penn State coach Jerry Dunn said. "It's really frustrating when we have equal opportunity with the basketball and we don't pull through."
Augustine also grabbed 12 rebounds to lead Illinois, which held a 32-27 edge at halftime. The Fighting Illini dominated in the paint, where they outscored the Nittany Lions, 50-26.
Luther Head added 13 points and Brian Cook finished with 11 for Illinois, which has won nine of the last 11 meetings with Penn State. Smith, a 7-footer, made all four shots for 10 points and Brown handed out 11 assists.
"For us to be good, we have to go on the inside," Self said. "I didn't think our three big guys would score 30-40 points and Cook only scoring 11. I didn't think that was going to happen at all."
DeForrest Riley scored 13 points, but Chambliss struggled in just his third appearance off the bench. Chambliss, who has made 13 starts, hit only 3-of-16 shots for 11 points.
The Lions' 0-5 Big Ten start is their worst since joining the league in 1992.
"We all get frustrated," Dunn said. "When we get as close as we get, we just have to continue to reinforce on what we're doing well."