No. 23 Illinois dominates down low to rout Southern

League: NCAA Basketball

Posted on: 20 Nov, 2023 at 03:28 AM

Credit: Ron Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Terrence Shannon Jr. scored a game-high 24 points as No. 23 Illinois cruised to an 88-60 nonconference win over Southern on Sunday night in Champaign, Ill.

Dain Dainja added 12 points and Quincy Guerrier chipped in 10 for the Fighting Illini (4-1). Illinois canned 60 percent of its field-goal tries in the first half and finished the evening at 57.1 percent. It also dominated the boards, 50-17, which was more than enough to offset 21 turnovers.

Tai'Reon Joseph scored 16 points but made just 7 of 23 shots from the field, going 0-for-6 on 3-pointers for the Jaguars (1-4). Jordan Mitchell added 13 points, but the duo didn't have enough help. Southern connected on just 23 of 61 attempts from the field, including only 5 of 24 from beyond the 3-point line.

The Illini routinely punished the Jaguars inside, ending the game with a 62-28 advantage in points in the paint while earning an 18-1 edge in second-chance points. Illinois collected more offensive rebounds (15) than Southern had defensive rebounds (13).

The Illini led by at least 20 points for the final 18 1/2 minutes, pushing the lead as high as 34 on three occasions in the second half.

The first half was competitive for the most part, with Southern even holding a brief 6-4 lead after Joseph dunked. Illinois took the lead for good on Dainja's slam at the 16:01 mark, but the Jaguars tagged along closely, closing within 28-24 with 5:27 left after Jordan Johnson drained a 3-pointer.

That was as good as it got for Southern, as the Illini ripped off 17 straight points in a span of under five minutes. Shannon capped the run with a layup with 26 seconds remaining for a 21-point advantage. Even though Mitchell canned a 3-pointer to end the run, Illinois went to intermission with a 45-27 cushion.

The Illini didn't make a single 3-pointer in the first half, but they were still able to create the large lead thanks to 36 points in the paint.

--Field Level Media