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Both teams experienced Christmas turnarounds. Illinois didn't sulk after losing to UIC and Missouri. Penn State didn't break for the holiday and held practices on Christmas and Christmas Eve. "We were here together (in State College)," DeChellis said. Even the Illini are unsure how Penn State will respond from the upset of Michigan State that knocked the Spartans out of the national rankings. It also ended Penn State's 10-game losing streak against ranked opponents. Before that, its most recent win against a ranked team came against Illinois in 2009. "One, they could have confidence and after the game their guys are saying, 'We've got to keep it going to show we're really a team to deal with in the Big Ten,' " Weber said. "Or maybe they come in relaxed. I don't know." Look for Illinois to avoid another court-storming at Bryce Jordan Center – students rushed the floor after those wins against ranked Illinois and Michigan State – and secure just its third 4-0 Big Ten start since 1995. (News-Gazette prediction record: 13-3).
Penn State opponents are concentrating their defenses on Battle. That's what Illinois will do tonight, reminding the defender next to D.J. Richardson to be prepared to help if Battle darts his way.
But there is danger there because three rangy Penn State seniors – Jeff Brooks, David Jackson and Andrew Jones – are starting to play like three-year regulars should. They produced 44 points Saturday when their playmaking leader went 3 for 14 ... a slump that didn't prevent Battle from depositing the final field goal to put Michigan State away, 66-62.
CHAMPAIGN – Jazz Jones wasn't about to tell her son what to do. Just like in 2007, when he was deciding on a college.
That time, Mikel Leshoure picked Illinois. This time, one of the top running backs in Illini history picked the NFL. A year early.
Bob Asmussen's final Top 25 — and his Top 10 for next year
In girls' basketball
Judah Christian 63, Decatur Christian 27. The visiting Tribe outscored Decatur Christian 42-10 in the second half thanks to 25 points from UZURI WILLIAMS.
Team of the Week: Purdue
Purdue is rolling – and because Hummel's not there, the Boilers are doing so under the radar. But the numbers don't lie. Purdue is scoring with ease, at 1.18 points per possession. But then you consider Purdue is even better on defense, allowing .91 points per possession. No other Big Ten team allows less than 1.00.