Illinois Overcomes Slow Start to Win Big Against Southern
The Illini had a rough start to the season, facing early deficits of at least eight in each of its first three games against low or mid-major opponents. However, they shook off their slow start with a convincing 88-60 win over Southern on Sunday.
Dain Dainja led the way for Illinois, scoring 24 points and adding 12 rebounds. He was in double-figures for the second straight game after replacing the injured Coleman Hawkins. Freshman big Amani Hansberry had a solid performance off the bench, scoring eight points, grabbing seven rebounds, and dishing out three assists.
Quincy Guerrier added 10 points and six rebounds to the mix as well. Terrence Shannon Jr., who had a game-high 24 points, also played well in the first half with a personal 12-0 run that put Illinois up 40-24 with 2:28 left in the first half. Luke Goode hit three triples after the break to finish with nine points as Illinois opened up a commanding 34-point lead in the second half.
Southern came into the contest ranked 37th in forced turnover rate according to Kenpom, but were able to keep pace with Illinois early on by forcing some miscues through their speedy play. The Illini finished with 21 turnovers but were able to overcome this hurdle and ultimately secure a big victory over Southern. Next up for Illinois is Western Illinois at home on Friday at 8 p.m.