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>>Illini Crack Top 25 As Enter Big Ten/ACC Challenge vs Miami

 width=So far, Illinois has an undefeated record, a preseason tournament title and a Top 25 ranking to its credit.

But coach John Groce said Monday he believes the Illini (6-0) haven't played their best basketball yet.

Illinois moved into the AP Top 25 Monday at No. 24. It faces No. 15 Miami (7-0) on Tuesday night in Florida.

The Illini took the Las Vegas Invitational title Friday with a 62-54 win over Baylor.

Illinois struggled to make shots in the first half of that game. However, Groce points out his team was down by just four points at the half.

Groce said his team has played good basketball so far but hasn't even played a complete game yet. As Groce put it, he believes the team's "ceiling is still high."

>>Kentucky Retains Top Spot In Latest Hoops Poll

(Undated) -- Kentucky remains the number-one team in men's college basketball this week. The 7-and-0 Wildcats received 29 of 32 first-place votes to hold the top spot in the "USA Today" Coaches Poll. Duke remains number-two, with Arizona moving up one spot to third and Wisconsin dropping one spot to fourth. Louisville is still fifth, with Virginia, Texas, Gonzaga, Villanova and Wichita State rounding out the top-10. VCU, UCLA and Providence fell out of the poll.

>>ISU Forward Named MVC Newcomer of the Week

 width=For the second-consecutive week, the Illinois State men's basketball team has earned the Missouri Valley Conference Newcomer of the Week accolade, with Redbird freshman forward Deontae Hawkins receiving this week's honor, as announced by the league office Monday.

Hawkins averaged a double-double last week, scoring 12.5 points and a team-best 10.0 rebounds per game against Seton Hall (Nov. 24) and Youngstown State (Nov. 29). Hawkins netted a career-best 18 points, while grabbing a career-high 15 rebounds for the game's only double-double in the Redbirds' overtime victory over YSU.

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