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Illini oust Knights

Illinois knows it will need a much better game tomorrow to advance to the NCAA regional semifinals.

The top-seeded and top-ranked Illini were beaten on the glass and had to battle through a subpar first half before a 14-2 run at the start of the second propelled them to a 67-55 victory over Fairleigh Dickinson last night in Indianapolis.

Even an Illinois-partisan crowd in the RCA Dome didn't seem to help much.

"The way we played defense, the way they outrebounded us, it was kind of embarrassing and the crowd that wasn't wearing orange was celebrating," said Dee Brown, who led Illinois (33-1) with 19 points. "You expect that. We just were not playing good basketball."

And the 16th-seeded Knights (23-10) were before halftime. They outscored the Illini, 20-10, inside and came from 7 points down to take a brief lead in the first half. Mensah Peterson's buzzer-beating 3-pointer to close the half left Illinois with the slimmest of leads, 32-31.

Illinois survives to face Nevada, a winner over Texas, in the second round, with the winner advancing to the Chicago Regional semifinals.

Luther Head added 13 points for Illinois, while James Augustine grabbed 15 rebounds to go with 11 points. FDU won the rebounding battle, 42-30.

Cincinnati 76, Iowa 64 -- Jason Maxiell had 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 blocked shots, a pair of steals, and the first two 3-point baskets of his college career in leading the Bearcats past the Hawkeyes. Cincinnati (25-7) advanced to tomorrow's second round of the Austin Regional against Kentucky (26-5), which beat Eastern Kentucky in its tournament opener.

Maxiell had missed all five 3-point attempts he had taken in his first 127 games with Cincinnati. But in the closing minutes against Iowa, with the game already decided, he shot twice from long range and hit both.

The Bearcats limited the Hawkeyes to just one field goal and three free throws in the first 11 minutes. Three-pointers by Nick Williams, James White, and Armein Kirkland, meanwhile, sparked a 21-3 run that put Cincinnati in control midway through the first half.

Nevada 61, Texas 57 -- Kevin Pinkney pumped in 15 points and the Wolf Pack scored the final 8 points to beat the Longhorns. Pinkney spent much of the game in foul trouble and ninth-seeded Nevada's top scorer, Nick Fazekas, was held to just 10 points -- well below his average of 21.4. Mo Charlo added 12 points off the bench for Nevada (25-6).

The Wolf Pack rallied from a 57-53 deficit with 2:24 left and overcame a career-high 20 points from Texas's Jason Klotz.

Kentucky 72, E. Kentucky 64 -- Chuck Hayes and Kelenna Azubuike each scored 16 points, and Azubuike ignited an 8-0 run early in the second half of the Wildcats' victory over the Colonels (22-90 in the Austin Regional. Kentucky (26-5) extended its NCAA record of tournament victories to 94 and is now 37-9 in NCAA Tournament openers.

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