Men’s basketball defeats Augustana to continue its win streak


Austin Yattoni

Illinois forward Michael Finke rises up for a slam dunk during the game against Augustana at State Farm Center on Wednesday, Nov. 22, 2017.

By Will Gerard, Staff writer

Freshman Mark Smith caught the ball from the high-post with 1:47 minutes remaining in the first half. Smith spun past a defender as he received the pass, and finished a contested and-one layup over 6-foot-10-inch sophomore center Micah Martin.

This play was part of Smith’s scoring outburst at the end of the first half. Despite a slow start offensively, Smith finished with 13 points on a 5-10 shooting performance from the field, and continued a trend of successfully slashing to the basket.

Illinois cruised to a 96-62 victory over Augustana.

Junior Michael Finke led the Illini in scoring with 20 points, and had 10 rebounds in a team-high 25 minutes on the court. It was the second double-double of Finke’s career.

“For the first few games, my shot wasn’t falling from three, but I’ve always said for years ‘shooter’s shoot,’ so I just continue to stick with that,” Finke said. “I know the coaches have confidence in me.”

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Finke got the Illinois offense started from distance early, and over the course of the game, shot 7-11 from the field and 3-6 from three-point range.

“He’s an elite shooter,” coach Brad Underwood said. “He’s one of the best shooters, not just in the Big Ten, but in the country.”

The Illini started the game with an 8-0 run and never trailed their Division III opponent throughout the entire contest.

Fellow junior forward Leron Black scored 15 points for the Illini. He shot 5-7 from the field and 4-5 from the free-throw line.

There were five Illini – Smith, Finke, Black, Aaron Jordan (12) and Trent Frazier (10) – that scored in double-figures.

Jordan scored all 12 points on three-point attempts (4-4 3 FG).

“(Jordan) just does the simple things: when we ask him to run, he runs and gets to the corner,” Underwood said. “Those are threes we practice, and he makes them.”

Senior guard Dylan Sortillo scored a team-high 18 points for the Vikings. The team captain shot 7-13 from the field in 35 minutes, which was just shy of the 36 minutes played by junior guard Chrishawn Orange.

Martin and junior guard Nolan Ebel both fouled out for Augustana.

As a team, Illinois shot 47-percent from the field and finished 10-24 on three-point attempts. Illinois shot 7-14 from three-point range in the first half.

“I’ve not worried for one second about us shooting threes,” Underwood said. “I think it was a matter of us getting them in rhythm, and shooting the shots that we practice and are in flow.”

Nineteen of the 32 Illinois baskets came on assists. Sophomore Te’Jon Lucas and senior Mark Alstork accounted for 11 of those assists, six and five respectively.

Alstork scored eight points (2-3 3FG) and added two blocks on defense.

On the defensive end, the Illini forced more turnovers (29) than field goals allowed (21).

Sophomore Kipper Nichols played just five minutes in the first half due to early foul trouble.

Underwood noted that he’s coached exceptionally hard through the first five games of the season in an effort to finally get a “complete 40-minute performance” out of his team.

“I’ve probably coached them pretty hard, even through the wins,” Underwood said. “I believe in that, you have to get after them and grind on them; it’s an expectation level we’re trying to reach.”

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