CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)—Illinois appears to have shaken out of its early season funk.
Dee Brown scored 14 points and James Augustine added 13 to lead No. 15 Illinois to a 93-59 rout of Texas Southern on Tuesday night.
“We were ready for whatever they threw at us,” said Augustine. “Even when they came at us with zone (defense), we were a little more composed. We were a little more able to get the ball inside, swing it and know what to look for to get easy baskets.”
Illinois (3-0) had been surprised by Texas-Pan American’s zone defense on Sunday and struggled, falling behind by 10 points before pulling out a 71-59 victory. But Tuesday night, there were no surprises.
The Illini were in complete control after the first two minutes of the game. They broke it open with a 19-8 run early in the first half and then buried the Tigers (1-2) with a 33-6 run to begin the second half. They led by as many as 41 points.
“They were a blur. That’s probably the fastest team we’ll see all year,” said Texas Southern coach Ronnie Courtney. “It’s amazing how fast those big guys can move.”
Brown also had six rebounds and five assists. Jamar Smith added 12, while Carter scored 11 and Arnold had 10.
Brian Randle, who struggled in his first two games after sitting out last season with an injury, scored six points. But he also had five assists two blocks and a steal that led to a crowd-pleasing dunk in the first half.
“I think I’m getting better,” he said. “They just want me to come out from the get go, being in the game right away. … It’s my job day in and day out to go in there with intensity.”
Illinois led 46-30 at halftime and held the Tigers to just eight points over the first 13 minutes of the second half. Smith’s 3-pointer with seven minutes left made the score 79-38.
“A little bit of a feel-good game, there’s no doubt,” said Illini coach Bruce Weber. “I thought we ran much better. We just got a lot of guys some minutes and maybe some guys a little confidence that will help them down the road.”
Illinois played every player on its roster, all but one playing 15 minutes or more.
Sean Walker scored 20 points and Ike Count added 11 for Texas Southern, which had 24 turnovers and just three assists.
The game was part of the South Padre Island Invitational Tournament. Illinois will play Wichita State and Texas Southern meets Texas-Pan American in third-round games Friday at South Padre Island, Texas.