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Illinois Survives W. Michigan Scare, 23-20

Illinois offensive linesman Simon Cvijanovic (68) blocks Western Michigan defensive end Deauntay Legrier (36) while Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (2) looks to pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

Illinois offensive linesman Simon Cvijanovic (68) blocks Western Michigan defensive end Deauntay Legrier (36) while Illinois quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase (2) looks to pass during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in Champaign, Ill. (AP Photo/Seth Perlman)

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Rose And Bulls Go Fot 11th Straight Win Over Pistons
Once upon a time Michael Jordan tormented the Detroit Pistons. Now it seems as if that responsibility has fallen into the hands of Derrick Rose, and he hasn't skipped a beat. Rose looks to lead the Bulls to an 11th straight victory over the Pistons when the Central Division rivals meet Friday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Chicago (54-20) is enjoying its longest run in the series since Jordan helped the Bulls win 19 in a row from April 12, 1993-March 22, 1997. Rose's first game against Detroit (26-48) was a 104-98 loss Dec. 23, 2008, in which he scored 10 points. He's played in nine games during this win streak, averaging 24.7 points and 52.9 percent shooting along with 6.9 assists per game. The third-year guard is a leading MVP candidate, but he's more concerned with helping Chicago gain the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls, winners of 13 of 15, defeated Minnesota 108-91 on Wednesday. Chicago bounced back from a 97-85 home loss to Philadelphia on Monday. "I think we're getting better, almost every game," Rose said. "Last game of course we didn't do it, but tonight we came out and played aggressive, played with an edge." Joakim Noah sat out Wednesday with a sprained right ankle and will be a game-time decision. He has missed two of Chicago's first three meetings with Detroit. Noah's absence may not be a problem as fellow big man Carlos Boozer has averaged 29.0 points and 11.0 rebounds in two games against the Pistons this season. Boozer recorded his second double-double in three games with 24 points and 14 boards Wednesday. Chicago's unselfish, team-oriented play continues to draw raves around the league. The Bulls have recorded at least 30 assists three times in their last six games, with 31 against the Timberwolves. "That's a team right there," Minnesota guard Wayne Ellington said. "Them guys play together, man. All the way around. They play together, communicate. They do it the right way." Teamwork and chemistry have been season-long problems for Detroit, which is two defeats shy of its first back-to-back 50-loss seasons since 1993-94 and 1994-95. The Pistons suffered their fourth loss in five games and ninth straight on the road Wednesday, 111-101 to Indiana. Detroit beat the Pacers 100-88 four days earlier at home. "We're trying different things right now, trying to get something going so we can win that road game," coach John Kuester said. "But I'll tell you, our energy is so much better at home, compared to on the road." Rodney Stuckey came off the bench to lead Detroit with 24 points. Tracy McGrady, however, had two points in 11 minutes in his return to the lineup after missing a game with a sore back. Pistons reserve guard Ben Gordon is 0-7 against his former team, averaging 10.7 points and 37.5 percent shooting. Gordon has gone scoreless in two of his last four games and is averaging a career-worst 11.8 points on the season. Center Ben Wallace is day to day after missing the last four contests with a sore left knee. Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. STATS LLC and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Troy Pollard rushed for a career-high 133 yards and No. 24 Illinois needed all three of Derek Dimke’s field goals Saturday to survive Western Michigan 23-20 and improve to 4-0 for the first time since 1951.

It wasn’t easy. The Illini trailed at the half 13-10 and booing fans recalled the 23-17 loss to the Broncos (2-2) the last time the teams met in 2008.

Illinois turned to Pollard, a senior who’s never quite cracked the top of the Illini depth chart, freshman tailback Donovonn Young, and the option. All three delivered.

Pollard’s 49-yard burst midway through the fourth quarter set up a 21-yard Dimke field goal that gave the Illini the three-point lead they wouldn’t give up. Illinois put up 196 rushing yards in the second half, including 95 from Pollard and 40 from Young.

The option delivered on the opening possession of the third quarter.

Down 13-10 with a first and 10 at the Western Michigan 14, quarterback Nathan Scheelhaase ran left on an option with Young trailing him, taking the pitch just as Scheelhaase absorbed a wicked hit.

Young scooted hard around the corner, shooting a gap between three Broncos defenders and into the end zone. Illinois was back in the lead at 17-13 with 10:27 left in the quarter.

After a Dimke field goal put the Illini up 20-13, Western Michigan tied the game late in the quarter on a seven-yard pass from Alex Carder to Jordan White, whipped hard as the receiver ran toward the right side of the end zone chased by safety Steve Hull.

Early in the fourth quarter, though, Pollard gave the Illini the edge they would use to win.

On a first and 10 at the Illinois 30, the 5-foot-8 back squirted out of the middle of Illini offense and down the right sideline for his 49 yard run, forced out by cornerback Lewis Toller.

Carder and Illinois’ offensive struggles gave the Broncos a great chance for a repeat of the 2008 upset that would have cost Illinois their week-old ranking. The Illini only moved into the Top 25 with last Saturday’s win over Arizona State.

Carder was 30 of 48 with two touchdowns, 306 yards and one interception. White caught 14 balls for 132 yards.

The Broncos served notice early that this would be a fight. With the Illini up 10-3, Western Michigan struck back with a 76-yard, clock-eating drive that ended with a 23-yard field goal from John Potter that cut the deficit to 10-6.

The Illini ran three plays that went nowhere before backup punter Ryan Lankford, one of Illinois’ starting receivers, blooped a 21-yard, rugby-style punt that set up the Broncos at the Illini 39.

Three plays later, Carter hit receiver Chleb Ravenell, who sidestepped charging safety Supo Sanni and sprinted to the end zone for a 35-yard touchdown and a 13-10 lead.

Things got worse for the Illini. Illinois moved down the field for a potential score, but offensive lineman High Thornton was flagged for unnecessary roughness and Scheelhaase was sacked for a loss of nine yards. His heave into the end zone was picked off, but another lineman Jeff Allen, was ejected after the teams jostled on the way to the locker rooms.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)