Illinois has been struggling to start strong in its games against low or mid-major opponents. However, the team shook off its sluggish starts and dominated Southern on Sunday with an 88-60 victory.
Terrence Shannon Jr. had a standout performance with a game-high 24 points, while Dain Dainja added 12 points and Quincy Guerrier had 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman big Amani Hansberry also contributed eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists off the bench.
Dainja led the Illini’s charge in the first half, scoring ten points in just the first 6:40 minutes of play. He was instrumental in their early success as he was in double figures for the second straight game after taking over for the injured Coleman Hawkins. Niccolo Moretti also provided a spark off the bench for the second consecutive game, contributing four points, three assists, and three rebounds before leaving late in the first half due to an ankle injury.
Southern tried to keep up with Illinois by forcing turnovers early on. The Illini had ten turnovers in just 16 minutes at one point during the game. However, they eventually calmed down and finished with a total of 21 turnovers. Shannon went on a personal 12-point run late in the first half that put Illinois up by 18 points with just two minutes left before halftime.
Illinois opened up a commanding 34-point lead in the second half thanks to Luke Goode hitting three triples after halftime to finish with nine points overall. Goode has been instrumental in Illinois’ offense this season as he has made three or more threes in four out of their five games so far. The Illini next face Western Illinois at home on Friday at 8 p.m., so fans can tune into Anderson Kimball’s Twitter feed (@byAndyKimball) to stay updated on all things Illini basketball action!