Illinois cruises to large margin of victory


Austin Yattoni

Illinois guard Trent Frazier (1) drives to the basket during the game against Austin Peay at State Farm Center on Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017.

By Will Gerard, Staff Writer

Despite the lack of junior Leron Black and sophomore Kipper Nichols due to recent injuries, Illinois dominated all facets of the game against Longwood.

Head coach Brad Underwood had the opportunity to play a deep bench as Illinois (8-4, 0-2 Big Ten) defeated Longwood (3-7) 92-45 after leading by 26 points at halftime, and it even would extend the lead to 51 points with 3:56 minutes left in the second half.

Illinois also outscored Longwood 65-19 over 20 minutes of play, and the run started with 11:55 minutes left in the first half.

The Illini shot 47-percent from the field, and they had a balanced scoring effort. Four players scored in double-digits, and the Illini recorded 20 assists on 34 made baskets.

“I can’t wait to show them the film, and show how easy offensive can become when you move the ball, share it and play unselfish,” Underwood said.

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Illinois missed its first seven attempts from 3-point range, but it quickly responded with six-consecutive threes.

“When the ball moves, we have a chance to be very good,” Underwood said.

Jordan started in place of Black, who has been sidelined since the second half of Saturday’s game due to a hyper-extended right elbow.

Nichols also didn’t dress because of a foot injury he suffered in practice Monday.

Jordan finished with a career-high 22 points (8-15 FG, 4-8 3FG) and a team-high eight rebounds.

Junior forward Michael Finke and freshman Trent Frazier were the team’s other leading scorers. Finke scored 19 points (8-10 FG, 3-5 3FG) and brought down seven rebounds.

Frazier chipped in for a career-high 20 points (7-15 FG, 3-8 3FG), four steals and four assists in a team-high 26 minutes off the bench. His previous career-high of 16 points occurred last Saturday against UNLV.

Underwood said that Frazier’s steals are the product of his improved ability to read opposing team’s offensive tendencies.

“Trent sees plays now that he didn’t see before,” Underwood said. “He has unique speed, tremendous quickness and when you throw his anticipation in there, he can do things that other guys can’t.

Senior Mark Alstrok was the other player that scored in double-digits. Alstork scored 10 points (3-8 FG) and secured seven rebounds.

Illinois also dominated the glass, and it outrebounded Longwood 52-23 with 27 rebounds coming on the offensive end.

Sophomore Te’Jon Lucas dished out a team-high five assists, and the 6-foot-1 guard grabbed seven rebounds.

On the defensive end, the Illini forced 24 Lancer turnovers, yet they only committed 13 personal fouls throughout the contest.

Freshman forward Matic Vesel scored the first basket of his Illini career on a tip-in basket with 6:59 minutes left in the first half.

Underwood thinks that Vesel has done an exceptional job of “working his tail off” since coming to the University, particularly in the weight room after missing summer workout, despite him still showing some nerves during games.

He referenced the many obstacles the Slovenian has faced while adjusting to the challenges of being a student-athlete in a foreign country at an “elite-level” institution.

It was only two points of the night, however, both he and fellow freshman forward, Greg Eboigbodin, played 13 minutes with the absence of Black and Nichols.

“I thought they both brought energy off the bench,” Finke said.