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Updated: Thursday, January 6, 2005 12:55 AM EST
NCAA BASKETBALL RECAP
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(1) Illinois 84, Ohio St 65

CHAMPAIGN, Illinois (Ticker) -- Roger Powell Jr. had a strong finish to help No. 1 Illinois get its Big Ten Conference title defense off to a good start.

Powell scored all 12 of his points in the second half as the Illini pulled away from Ohio State for an 84-65 victory in the conference opener for both teams.

Illinois led, 46-40, at the half and 65-57 with just over 10 minutes to play before putting the game out of reach with a 14-3 run. Powell scored six points in the spurt to give the Illini a comfortable 79-60 lead with 4:36 left.

"The coaches understood, but I didn't know if the kids understood what kind of game this would be," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "You gotta give our kids credit for coming back and battling and making plays."

The Illini (15-0, 1-0 Big Ten) have now won five straight over the Buckeyes and are off to the second-best start in school history. the 1988-1989 team started the season 17-0 and was also ranked No. 1.

"We always get everybody's best shot, people get up to play us," Illinois guard Deron Williams said. "We've had it (number one ranking) for three weeks now, so we expect it every game."

Illinois spoiled the Big Ten coaching debut of Thad Matta, who last season led Xavier to the Elite Eight.

James Augustine scored 21 points and grabbed 10 rebounds for Illinois, and Williams added 14 and eight assists.

"James was great, 21 points, 10 rebounds in 26 minutes. Those are pretty good numbers," Weber said. "He was very active and we were able to get a good mixture of inside looks."

Tony Stockman scored 19 points and Ivan Harris added 14 for Ohio State (11-3, 0-1), which was outrebounded, 39-23.


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