Illinois squeaks by Carolina

The only thing that was the same was the uniforms.

Last night, Nov. 29, in a rematch of last year’s National Championship game, Illinois defeated the defending national champion-University of North Carolina Tar Heels- 68-64.

Point guard Dee Brown scored 14 points including a pair of key free throws late in the game and senior James Augustine added a double-double 13 points and 13 rebounds for the 6-0 Illinois.

Illinois beat a Tar Heel team that was strikingly different from the team they faced last year when they lost 75-70. UNC entered the season losing all five of their starters from last year and their top seven scorers to either graduation or the NBA.

The young UNC squad, playing four freshmen for most of the game, kept the game close at first. Going into halftime tied 35-35. Nevertheless, the 12th ranked Fighting Illinois blew open the game in the second half scoring easy buckets off UNC turnovers.

Illinois stretched the lead out to as big as 14 points before the resilient Hills sparked a 12-0 run with 6:39 left in the game making the score 64-62. During the 12-0 run, Illinois missed five straight shots and turned the ball over repeatedly allowing UNC to pull within two.

North Carolina’s four dynamic freshmen showed pose scoring all of their teams 29 points in the second half. Freshmen forward Tyler Hansbrough led Carolina with 17 points and Marcus Ginyard had 14 in a losing effort. Senior David Noel added 12 points all scored in the first half before fouling out in the second half.

Brown had nothing but praise for his competitors telling ESPN “North Carolina was completely wiped out [after last year]. They’ve got a good young group over there."

This win gives the Big 10 a 3-3 tie to the Athletic Coast Conference in the Cisco System Big Ten/ACC Challenge.