Illini overcome slow start, beat Texas Pan-American

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Texas-Pan American came north with a surprise.

The Broncs sprung a zone defense on Illinois and gave the 17th-ranked Illini all they could handle before faltering late and losing 71-59 on Sunday.

"They sprang it on us and it obviously worked," Illinois center James Augustine said. "I think they were in kind of a weird zone. There were times when they were in a 1-3-1, it looked like, and times they were in a 2-3. They did everything they needed to do to stay in the game."

Pan Am (1-1) forced Illinois to take half of its shots from 3-point range and, in the first half, most clanged off the rim. The Illini fell behind by 10 with 8:19 to go.

"We didn't run it in our first three games because we wanted to hide it a little bit," Pan Am coach Robert Davenport said. "We felt like it was one of the few ways we'd be able to stay in the game, if we could get them to miss some shots and we could hit a few."

A 3-point play by Kano Edwards broke a 13-13 tie and ignited a 10-0 Pan Am run. Dexter Shankle had a layup, Derrick East tipped one in, Larry Sheppard hit a free throw and David Burrell had a fast-break layup to put the Broncs up 23-13.

"I think we really surprised them," East said. "I don't think they expected us to come in and play as hard as we did. I think Illinois has a new-found respect for us."

The Illini looked lost at times, moving too many players to one side of the court and sometimes ignoring the area under the basket.

"Our bigs didn't do a good job of flashing, and when they did flash our guards didn't do a good job of seeing them," Illinois coach Bruce Weber said. "We're such a man-to-man team, we don't put a lot of time into zone."

But Illinois kept shooting and finally freshman Jamar Smith started a comeback by hitting a 3-pointer with 7:11 left. Rich McBride hit two more, Chester Frazier hit another and Augustine's layup with 1:53 to go gave Illinois a 31-30 lead.

The Illini closed the half with a 23-9 run and led 36-32 at the break.

Pan Am cut the Illinois lead to two points twice early in the second half, but Augustine's jumper started an 8-0 run that put the Illini up 46-38 and the Broncs never got closer than five points again.

"They did a good job and were patient because most of the shots they hit were late in the shot clock," Davenport said. "They got us to move and got us out of position and found some gaps. And they're good shooters."

Dee Brown scored 20 points, including 15 from 3-point range, and added seven rebounds, four assists and four steals for Illinois. Augustine scored 14 pionts and McBride added 11 and eight assists as the Illini wound up hitting 41 percent of their shots, including 11-of-34 from behind the 3-point line.

Pan American made 49 percent of its shots and was 2-of-10 from long range. East and Shankle each scored 12 points and Johnathan Chatman scored 10 for the Broncs, who committed 17 turnovers.

The game was the first for each team in the eight-team South Padre Island Invitational Tournament. Illinois will meet Texas Southern and Pan Am plays Wichita State in the second round on Tuesday.