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CHICAGO – When the Illinois women last played at the United Center, the result was a nightmare, one that Lydia McCully had no interest in re-living.
RANTOUL – Mark Thornton was impressed the first time he saw Travis Britt with a basketball. The youngster was in fifth grade.
"The first thing I noticed," Thornton said, "was that he was fundamentally sound, could dribble with both hands and was an excellent passer. Someone had taught him well early on."
Chrisman High School's greatest athletes:
1. Walter Hoult
CHRISMAN – When he was in high school, Walter Hoult ran because it was expected. Now, he runs because he wants to.
ST. JOSEPH – Maybe a good breakfast was all Paxton-Buckley-Loda needed.
Champaign Central 52, Mattoon 41. The Maroons broke out of a halftime tie with a 16-6 edge in the third quarter en route to a Big 12 road victory. Clayton Jones had 12 points and six assists for Central, while Alex Roux scored a team-high 13 points. JAY SIMPSON had eight blocks.
CHICAGO – Outside the Illinois locker room at the United Center, there was a sense of shock after a 57-54 loss to UIC.
But is it really that surprising anymore?
The Illini were a 17-point favorite. For some perspective, Tennessee was an 11-point favorite when it lost to Oakland. This ranks among the biggest upsets in college basketball this season.
Final: Illinois 65, UIC 56
Karisma Penn had 16 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Illini, who eased the bitter memories of their last trip to the United Center, a lopsided loss to Bradley in 2008.
CHICAGO - There was no enthusiasm at the tip, and no celebration at the end.
A bunch of other stuff went wrong, but that's partly how to explain how No. 12 Illinois suffered an otherwise inexplicable loss to UIC today at the United Center.
Prediction: ILLINOIS 61, UIC 56
If comparative scores are indicative, this should be a tight game. Illinois must defend well in transition and contain the Flames' penetration, or else it could be another disappointing trip to Chicago. Look for Penn to lead the Illini to a narrow win.