Illini experience mixed success

By Jason Grodsky

It didn’t take long for sophomore guard Jamar Smith to rediscover his shot from behind the three-point line in Illinois’ home opening 80-35 win over Austin Peay State University at the Assembly Hall.

After missing his first three-point attempt of the season Smith found his stroke, making his next two three-point shots and finishing the first half four-for-seven from beyond the arc.

“Jamar has had a good couple of days in practice and came out hot,” junior forward Brain Randle said.

“Starting off the season with five three’s is what we’re looking for. To start off so well it definitely takes pressure off some of the other guys on the team,” he said.

“I was very excited with the way he played,” he added.

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Smith would knock down his first three-pointer in the second half to give him a team-high 19 points. However, he would be taken out of the game following a scramble for a loose ball with 17:07 left in the second half that left him with a left ankle sprain.

“When he got up I thought he would be fine, but it was a little higher than we would like and it’s a high ankle sprain,” head coach Bruce Weber said.

“We have to hope he’s not out for an extended period because he’s starting to get back into the groove,” he added.

Freshmen see action in first regular season game

Illinois freshmen Brian Carlwell and Richard Semrau made their regular-season debuts in the Illini’s season opener against Austin Peay, but would experience mixed success.

Coming off a solid performance in Illinois’ exhibition game against Southern Illinois-Edwardsville, in which he scored seven points and grabbed five rebounds, the Grafton, Ohio native struggled in his first action.

Semrau entered the game with 7:25 in the first half and turned the ball over twice in the first half, once following his one of his five rebounds of the game which led to an Austin Peay layup.

The freshman mistakes continued on the offensive side of the court later when he was whistled for an illegal screen.

Semrau would come back into the game later in the first half. He again returned in the second half with 12:50 remaining but would experience only mild success, turning the ball over twice more and finishing with just two points on 1-of-5 shooting.

While Semrau saw action early in the game, Carlwell didn’t enter the game until 11:20 into the second half. But he made most of his playing time after deciding not to redshirt on Sunday.

Despite missing his first three shots and his first two free throw attempts, Carlwell was a force on the boards.

Carlwell finished with a team-high six rebounds, three of which were offensive, and two ferocious dunks.

“Brian came in and rebounded pretty well,” junior forward Shaun Pruitt said.

“He is a good player and can help us a lot, because in the Big Ten you’re going to need about four or five big men,” he added.

Free throw problems continue for Illini

Coming off a season in which the Illini shot a dismal 64.3 percent from the free throw line, one of head coach Bruce Weber’s biggest stresses of the offseason was improving Illinois percentage from the charity stripe.

But after Illinois first game it didn’t look as if the Illini have improved.

The Illini shot just 44.4 percent from the free-throw line on 12-of-27 free throws.