No. 6 Illinois 84, Tennessee-Martin 46
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)—Rebound by rebound, the Illinois fans counted along silently. When James Augustine grabbed his 11th, the applause rippled from the top of the Assembly Hall even though there was no immediate announcement that he had set a school record.
Augustine’s grab of a missed layup with 10:51 to play in the sixth-ranked Illini’s 84-46 rout of Tennessee-Martin was the 854th of his career, passing Efrem Winters who played from 1983-86.
“I’m actually glad it’s over. I wanted it to be over,” Augustine said after the Illini won their 14th straight game to finish their non-conference schedule undefeated for the second straight season. “I’ll be happy when I leave, but right now we have more important things to take care of.”
Augustine scored 19 points and Rich McBride added 21, all on 3-pointers, to lead Illinois, which begins Big Ten play Thursday night at home against No. 9 Michigan State.
“He does it without a lot of pizazz,” coach Bruce Weber said of Augustine. “He’s just very consistent. He’s a great soldier.”
Weber says he will push Augustine, who scored his 1,000th career point earlier in the season, to also reach 1,000 rebounds before the end of the season. But with no doubt about the game’s outcome, he nearly took his starting center out before he got the record.
“I said ‘Get it done or I’m getting him out under 11,”’ Weber said he told his coaches. “I don’t want to take a risk of an injury or whatever.”
Augustine went to the bench immediately after the record-breaking rebound.
Augustine was just as effective from the field as he was on the glass. He hit eight of nine shots, made three free throws and added two assists and a steal.
The double-double was Augustine’s fourth of the season and 21st of his career.
Tennessee-Martin (5-5) was outclassed from the opening tip. McBride hit his first 3 just 33 seconds into the game and Illinois was up 17-0 before Bubba Tolliver finally put the Skyhawks in the scorebook with a free throw with 14:45 left in the half.
Augustine had a dunk and layup to start another 10-0 run. Tennessee-Martin trailed 47-15 at halftime after going 4-of-22 from the field.
Tennessee-Martin didn’t make its first field goal until Justin Flatt hit a 3-pointer with 9:14 to go in the half.
“They jumped up and made shots right away on us and then we couldn’t stop the bleeding,” Skyhawks coach Bret Campbell said.
McBride was 7-of-10 from 3-point range, a career high, as Illinois won its 29th straight at home.
“I think Rich has done a good job of playing defense, asserting himself, passing the ball and now shooting the ball is coming in,” Augustine said. “The last couple weeks, Rich has really developed into a complete basketball player.”
Tennessee-Martin did mount a 10-0 run at the start of the second half, but it was stopped by Dee Brown’s 3-pointer and the Illini responded with their own 17-5 outburst and built its biggest lead, 72-32, with 9:32 remaining.
Brown, Illinois’ leading scorer at 14.9 points per game, finished with five but he had 10 assists and two steals before departing with Augustine midway through the second half.
Jared Newson had 13 points and eight rebounds, and Thompson added 11 points for Tennessee-Martin, which shot 31 percent and committed 23 turnovers.