Illini move on despite rocky game

The Illinois men’s basketball team isn’t where it wants to be, but it is moving on in the postseason.

Demetri McCamey had 16 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds and Mike Davis scored 17 points to lead Illinois past Stony Brook, 76-66, on Wednesday night in a first-round NIT game before a sell-out crowd of 4,423 at Stony Brook Arena.

The win comes just three days after the Illini were left out of the NCAA Tournament in a heartbreaking and a somewhat controversial manner.

The Fighting Illini (20-14), the top seed in their bracket after bowing out in the Big Ten semifinals to Ohio State in double-overtime, will play in the second round against fourth-seeded Kent State.

Stony Brook jumped out to an early five-point lead and led for much of the first 10 minutes before a 9-0 run by the Illini gave them a 21-18 advantage.

Davis was the go-to guy in the first half, as he had 15 points and made seven field goals.

A McCamey jumper before half gave the Fighting Illini a 38-36 advantage heading into the break.

Illinois came out of the gates quickly in the second half, going on a 10-2 run to open a 10-point lead.

The Illini held a comfortable lead for much of the remainder of the game, leading by six at the under-four minute timeout. Stony Brook never got closer than six points in the final five minutes, as Illinois hit on 8-of-8 from the line in the last minute.

Illinois outrebounded Stony Brook by a 33-21 margin. The Illini were also efficient from the field, shooting 53 percent, and lit it up from long range, making 10 3-pointers.

However, Bruce Weber’s squad did turn the ball over 17 times.

Four of the Illini starters scored in double figures. In addition the McCamey and Davis, D.J. Richardson had 16 points and Mike Tisdale had 15. Tisdale had six rebounds, and Davis added five.

Bryan Dougher scored 21 points, including five 3-pointers, for the eighth-seeded Seawolves (22-10), the America East regular-season champs.

Illinois was supposed play at home, but Cirque du Soleil had been booked for the Assembly Hall.

Stony Brook received the chance to host the first postseason game in its 11-year Division I tenure.

The Associated Press contributed to this report