Illinois overcame an early trend of slow starts and impressed in a dominant 88-60 win over Southern on Sunday. Despite facing deficits of at least eight points in each of its first three games against low or mid-major opponents, the Illini led nearly wire-to-wire in their latest victory. Terrence Shannon Jr. had a standout game with 24 points, while Dain Dainja added 12 points and Quincy Guerrier had 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman big Amani Hansberry also made a significant contribution off the bench with eight points, seven rebounds, and three assists.
Dainja was instrumental in Illinois’ early success, scoring 10 points in the first 6:40 and providing the Illini with their first four made field goals. He had been filling in for the injured Coleman Hawkins for the second straight game and was double-digit scorer once again. Niccolo Moretti also gave Illinois an offensive boost off the bench for the second consecutive game, contributing four points, three assists, and three rebounds before leaving late with an ankle injury. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn also left the game with an injury in the final minute.
Southern attempted to keep up with Illinois by forcing turnovers early on, but Illinois’ miscues eventually allowed them to take control of the game. The Illini finished with 21 turnovers after having 10 in just the first 16 minutes. Shannon had a personal 12-point run late in the first half that put Illinois up by 40-24 with less than two minutes remaining in the first half. They took a commanding 34-point lead into halftime.
Illinois maintained their momentum throughout much of the second half before Luke Goode hit three triples to finish with nine points, helping them extend their lead to 57 points with just under five minutes remaining in regulation time. With Western Illinois coming up next on Friday at 8 p.m., Anderson Kimball will be following this story closely for all basketball fans to enjoy it