BLOOMINGTON - Illinois' Dee Brown and Illinois Wesleyan's Adam Dauksas squared off in an exhibition game back in November at the Assembly Hall in Champaign.
They're battling again, although this time it's not a one-on-one deal.
The senior standouts are among the 16 finalists announced Thursday for the Bob Cousy Award, which is presented to the nation's top collegiate point guard. The winner will be named April 3 at the Final Four in Indianapolis.
More than 50 candidates were considered from Division I, II and III schools. Two other Big Ten Conference point guards - Jeff Horner of Iowa and Daniel Horton of Michigan - joined Brown as finalists from Division I schools.
Other Division I nominees are Daniel Gibson of Texas, Carl Krauser of Pittsburgh, Gerry McNamara of Syracuse, Darius Washington of Memphis, Jordan Farmar of UCLA, Jose Juan Barea of Northeastern, Keydren Clark of Saint Peter's, Kyle Lowry of Villanova and Carldell "Squeaky" Johnson of Alabama-Birmingham.
Kyle Witucky of The College of Wooster is the other Division III nominee. Division II is represented by Mark Borders of Tampa and Sheldon Pace of Southwest Baptist.
Dauksas, the CCIW Most Outstanding Player as a junior, is averaging 14.2 points and 6.6 assists for the eighth-ranked Titans this season.
"It's pretty sweet," said Dauksas of being a Cousy Award finalist. "It definitely means a lot to be mentioned along with those guys. To represent Illinois Wesleyan and all of Division III is quite an honor."
Brown took over as the Illini's full-time point guard this season when Deron Williams (a Cousy Award finalist last year) left early for the NBA. The 6-foot Brown, a consensus first-team All-American and Big Ten Conference Player of the Year last season, went through an adjustment period early in this season before asserting himself at the point.
After starting the season with an assist/turnover ratio of 0.96 in the first six games, Brown has turned those numbers around. His ratio in the past 16 games is 2.82 (107 assists, 38 turnovers).
"He's getting much better at getting in the paint and making people make decisions and getting to the bucket," said Illinois coach Bruce Weber on Thursday. "He's made a lot of strides. I talked to an NBA guy this morning and he was at the game (against Wisconsin Tuesday).
"The guy kind of backed up what I was thinking. He said, 'Man, he's so much better at angles, penetration and creating for other people.' "
Brown leads the sixth-ranked Illini with 15.1 points and 5.9 assists per game. He ranks in the top five in the Big Ten in four categories - second in assists, fourth in 3-pointers made per game (2.45), fourth in assist/turnover ratio (2.10) and fifth in steals (1.65).
Fans can vote for their favorite candidates on-line at www.cousyaward. They can also register to win an opportunity to select the Cousy Award recipient on a committee that includes Hall of Famers Bob Cousy, Jim Calhoun and Dean Smith.
Cousy is a former Boston Celtics great known for his flashy passing who helped the team to six NBA championships. Cousy led the NBA in assists for eight straight years and played in 13 straight NBA All-Star games before retiring in 1963. He also was a freshman on the 1947 Holy Cross team that won the NBA championship.
Raymond Felton of North Carolina was last year's winner, while Jameer Nelson of St. Joseph's won the Cousy Award in 2005.
Randy Reinhardt contributed to this story.