In its latest game, Illinois managed to overcome a slow start against Southern on Sunday. The Illini trailed by at least eight points in each of their first three games against low- and mid-major opponents. However, they rallied to lead nearly back-to-back with an impressive 88-60 victory over Southern.
Leading the way for the Illini was Terrence Shannon Jr., who had a game-high 24 points. Dain Dainja added 12 points, while Quincy Guerrier had 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman big Amani Hansberry made a significant contribution off the bench with eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Despite being ranked 37th in the nation in turnover rate forced, according to Kenpom, Southern was able to keep up with Illinois early due to some mistakes. The Illini had 10 turnovers in just the first 16 minutes and finished with 21 turnovers overall. However, Niccolo Moretti gave the Illini an offensive spark off the bench for the second straight game, scoring four points, three assists, and three rebounds in the first half alone. Unfortunately, he left the game late in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. Dr Gibbs-Lawhorn also exited at the last minute due to injury.
Illinois took advantage of its offensive prowess in the second half, opening up a massive lead of 34 points over Southern after Luke Good hit three 3-pointers following halftime. He finished with nine points overall and has had three or more 3-pointers in four of Illinois’ five games this season. Up next for Illinois is a matchup against Western Illinois on Friday at 8 p.m. Follow Anderson Kimball on Twitter for updates on this exciting contest: @AndyKimball