Illinois dominates Lindenwood 117-65 to earn fourth-straight win

By Nathan DeHaan, Staff Writer

After a resounding win last Saturday, the Illinois men’s basketball team got back in the win column Tuesday night against Division II opponent Lindenwood at the State Farm Center.

Illinois started with a strong first half that included a 21-0 run and never looked back, winning in dominant fashion 117 – 65. The Illini improved to 6-1 on the season and 5-0 at the State Farm Center.

Illinois was led by its starting trio of guards junior Trent Fraizer, sophomore Ayo Dosunmu and senior Andrès Feliz. Fraizer had 17 points and went 5-for-11 from deep. Dosunmu scored 24, just one point shy of his career-high, and Feliz added 16. Illinois shot 62% from the field, 44% from deep and 75% from the free-throw line.

Lindenwood came in averaging 86 points-per-game but head coach Brad Underwood’s high-pressure defense tampered with the Lions the entire game, forcing 18 turnovers in the first half and six in the second. Dosunmu and Feliz had four steals each and freshman Kofi Cockburn had two of his own.

“That’s just one of our biggest focuses right now, just to come and try to create kills,” Fraizer said.

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Illinois got a lot of production out of its bench Tuesday, including career-highs in points from junior Da’Monte Williams with 18 and freshmen Jermaine Hamlin with 8. Williams was a starter last year but has made the transition to a sixth man this season rather smoothly.

“Since my freshman year coach Underwood said it’s the little things that help us win games,” Williams said. “I just try to go out and do all the little things so we can win games.”

Underwood praised Hamlin for his performance on Tuesday as well.

“I’m a huge Jermaine fan,” Underwood said. “He’s gonna be an elite shot-blocker when he leaves this university.”

Sophomore guard Alan Griffin didn’t play tonight because he was late to shoot around before the game, according to Underwood.

“If it was the national championship game, it would be the same result,” Underwood said. “I don’t have many rules but that’s one of them.”

Underwood said he struggled to prepare for Lindenwood and complimented the Lions’ performance so far this season.

“They’re a team that can really shoot it,” said Underwood. “There are almost five guards on the court all the time and we traditionally don’t switch a lot and yet they forced us to have to do some of those things.”

Tuesday’s contest was listed as an exhibition game on Lindenwood’s schedule, so the loss doesn’t count toward its 3-1 record this season.

TJ Crockett led the way for the Lions with 24 points, four rebounds and two steals. Vijay Blackmon added 12 points, three rebounds and four assists in the defeat.

Illinois will practice Wednesday and be off for Thanksgiving on Thursday. But, the Illini will be back in action at home Monday against the Miami Hurricanes in the annual Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

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