CHICAGO - OK, Illini trivia time.
Which player has been a part of the most University of Illinois men's basketball victories in school history?
If you answered Nick Smith, you're right. And perhaps a bit surprised. But in his four seasons as an Illini big man, Smith played in 110 victories. But current Illini seniors Dee Brown and James Augustine have a chance to surpass that mark.
After beating Xavier 65-62 Saturday at the United Center, Brown and Augustine have now been a part of 95 victories. To be clear, those are games in which they actually played and Brown and Augustine have not missed a single game during their Illini careers.
Illinois is 7-0 with 23 games to go in the regular season. That will be followed by the Big Ten Conference Tournament in Indianapolis, and, the team hopes, a berth in the NCAA Tournament. So 15 more victories (to tie Smith's record) is certainly a possibility.
"That's quite a tribute to them," Illini coach Bruce Weber said. "You think about all the players who have come through this school, they've both had amazing careers."
As part of the contract with Xavier to come to the United Center, Illinois must return the game next season, playing Xavier in Cincinnati.
The game is tentatively scheduled to be played on Dec. 30th at the U.S. Bank Arena.
No practice, just play
Illinois is back in action Monday night when it plays host to Arkansas-Little Rock at the Assembly Hall. Tipoff is at 7 p.m.
Normally, Illinois would practice the day before a game.
But because the NCAA requires a school to give its players one day off a week (when class is in session), tomorrow will be the mandatory day off.
That means Illinois will not practice before taking on an Arkansas-Little Rock team that was tied with Michigan State at the half Saturday before losing 72-67 in a game played in Grand Rapids, Mich.
"We had to make a choice and we have a game against Georgetown on Thursday and figured we needed two days to get ready for them because they run all that Princeton stuff," Weber said. "It's no disrespect to Little Rock, but we'll give our kids a scouting report (Saturday night) and tell them to study it. Then we'll have a walkthrough on Monday."
Arkansas-Little Rock has a 3-2 record.
The Illini women's team had an easy time disposing of St. Louis University 75-40 in a game played at the United Center prior to the Illini men's game.
Janelle Hughes led the way with 14 points. St. Louis was just 4-for-35 shooting in the first half and finished at just 19 percent for the game (12 for 63).
The Illini women are 4-2.
Seniors Dee Brown and James Augustine finished their careers 12-0 in games played at the United Center.
Fans were awed by the huge new video scoreboard that hangs above the court at the center of the United Center. Images on the video boards were of high definition-quality clarity.
The Illini men ran their United Center winning streak to 15 games and their overall record here to 28-6.
Mark Tupper can be reached at email@example.com