The University of Illinois started off slow in the beginning of the season, but managed to shake off that trend with a convincing win over Southern on Sunday. After falling behind by at least eight points against low or mid-major opponents in their first three games, the Illini led nearly wire-to-wire in an 88-60 victory over Southern. Terrence Shannon Jr. had a game-high 24 points while Dain Dainja added 12 points and Quincy Guerrier had 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman big Amani Hansberry had eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists off the bench.
Despite facing early deficits, Illinois was able to regain momentum thanks to some key contributions from their bench players. Dainja led the way with 10 points in the first 6:40 of play, including the Illini’s first four made field goals. He was in double figures for the second straight game after replacing the injured Coleman Hawkins. Niccolo Moretti also gave the Illini an offensive spark off the bench for the second straight game, scoring four points, three assists, and three rebounds in just one half of play. Unfortunately, Moretti suffered an ankle injury late in the first half and did not return to action. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn also left in the final minute with an injury.
Southern came into this contest ranked as KenPom’s 37th best team when it comes to forced turnovers, and they were able to use that advantage to keep pace with Illinois early on in the game. However, by halftime Illinois had already built up a commanding lead of 24 points after a personal 12-0 run from Shannon Jr., who finished with 17 points for the first half alone.
Illinois continued its dominance into the second half, eventually building up a whopping 34-point lead thanks to some impressive shooting from Luke Goode who hit three triples after returning from halftime break and ended up finishing with nine points on his own contribution towards Illinois win over Southern . Next up for Illinois is Western Illinois at home on Friday evening at 8 PM CST where Anderson Kimball will be covering live action