CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- It did not take long for No. 1 Illinois to match its best start in 15 seasons.
Dee Brown scored 19 points and Deron Williams added 15 to lead Illinois to 93-56 rout of Valparaiso in the Las Vegas Holiday Classic.
Shooting 57 percent (20-of-35) from the field in the first half, the Fighting Illini rolled to a 49-23 lead at the break en route to becoming the eighth team in school history and first since 1988 to begin 10-0.
The victory also moved Illinois within seven wins of matching the best start in school history, a 17-0 beginning by the 1988-89 squad that made the university's last appearance in the Final Four.
The trio of Brown, Williams and Luther Head were the catalysts for the high-flying start, scoring nine points apiece in the first half.
Brown made his first two 3-pointers and Williams collected three baskets in the first six-plus minutes to give Illinois a 19-9 lead. Williams added a long-range shot with 8:40 remaining and Brown knocked down his third 3-pointer of the half to push the advantage to 38-21 nearly three minutes later.
The Fighting Illini kept up the pressure in the second half, putting together a 20-5 run to build up a 39-point advantage. Overall, the team shot 61 percent (20-of-33) over the last 20 minutes.
The team's third-leading scorer at 13.8 points entering the contest, Brown finished 7-of-8 from the floor. Williams completed an all-around outstanding performance with seven rebounds and seven assists.
The two talented guards also did an outstanding job protecting the ball, as Illinois fell just one assist shy of a season high with 26 against just five turnovers.
Roger Powell Jr. scored 14 points and Head added 11 and nine assists for the Fighting Illini, who improved to 5-0 all-time against the Crusaders. They have also won 36 straight games at Assembly Hall against non-conference opponents.
Along with 10 points by James Augustine, Illinois' starters all reached double figures for the second straight game. After combining for 75 points on 65 percent (26-of-40) shooting in an 83-66 victory over Oregon on December 11, the starting five had 69 on 60 percent (29-of-48) in this one.
Dan Oppland scored 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting and Vincent Humphrey chipped in 10 for Valparaiso (2-6), which fell to its third ranked opponent this season.
Ron Howard and Jimmie Miles added seven points apiece for the Crusaders, who made just 8-of-26 shots (31 percent) in the first half and finished at 34 percent (20-of-59) from the field for the contest.
Illinois travels to Las Vegas to face Northwestern State and No. 17 Cincinnati on the last two days of December.