CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)—Bruce Weber knew his young Illinois team would have to play tight defense if it was to succeed against Georgetown’s ball-control offense Thursday night. So the coach was standing on his broken left ankle early in the game, waving his arms and exhorting his players to stick to the Hoyas like glue.
Georgetown missed eight of its first 10 shots, fell behind by 15 points and couldn’t recover, falling to the 11th-ranked Illini 58-48.
“The first half was as good a 20 minutes defensively as I’ve seen in a long time,” Weber said.
Dee Brown scored 16 points and James Augustine had his fourth double-double of the season with 10 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Illini to their ninth straight win to open the season and their 26th in a row at home.
Illinois scored the first 10 points of the game and led 12-2 with 12 minutes to go in the first half. It proved too much for the Hoyas (3-2).
“We dug a hole that was a little too deep to dig ourselves out of against a quality team,” Georgetown coach John Thompson III said. “Once we kind of regrouped, we kind of clawed and got back in it.”
The Hoyas were down 15 points at halftime but rallied behind Jeff Green, who scored 19 of his 21 points in the second half. They closed to 52-44 on Ashanti Cook’s 3-pointer with 1:10 to go, but then missed three straight shots, were forced to foul and the Illini converted all six free throws before Green scored four points in the final seconds.
“Their defense is terrific,” Thompson said. “That being said, we got shots. I think it was as much us as what they were doing. We were just a little slow to get going there.”
Illinois was only 9-of-25 from the field in the second half and finished the game shooting a paltry 32 percent. They were helped by seven 3-pointers.
“It’s one of those games that’s a slowdown,” Brown said. “There isn’t anything you can do about that. Just find a way to guard and get stops.”
Weber, wearing a boot to protect the ankle he broke in a household accident on Nov. 28, stood on the sideline nearly the entire game. He kept after his players as they struggled with their shots, shouting at them to go hard to the boards.
Illinois outrebounded the taller Hoyas 44-31 and had 21 offensive rebounds.
“The way we’re playing offensively any extra possession is so helpful for us,” Weber said.
Illinois’ Shaun Pruitt and Marcus Arnold held Roy Hibbert, Georgetown’s leading scorer at 16 points per game, to four points.
After Illinois jumped to its 10-0 lead, the Hoyas closed within 12-7 with 10:59 to go in the half. But the Illini tightened up their defense again and forced Georgetown to miss nine straight shots and turn the ball over four times over the next 9:02 and built a 28-13 halftime lead.