Illinois 80, Austin Peay 35
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP)—After lackluster performances in Illinois’ exhibition games, Jamar Smith led the team in an 80-35 defeat of Austin Peay to open the regular season Monday.
Smith had 19 points for the Illini (1-0), who started the game with a 7-0 lead and never let the Governors close the gap. Smith, who led the Big Ten in 3-point shooting as a freshman last season, shot 7-for-10 on the night, including 5-for-8 from behind the arc.
Illinois struggled to settle down in the first half, turning the ball over nine times. Austin Peay (0-2) made up a quick five points when Wes Channels hit a jumper and Warren Carter couldn’t match with one of his own 10 minutes into the game. The Governors then turned a Calvin Brock turnover into a three-point basket from Todd Babington.
Illinois’ Brian Randle, who missed the preseason with a strained muscle in the groin area, subbed in and quickly made his second dunk of the night. Randle would finish with seven points and a pair of steals despite playing just nine minutes.
But Smith was the star. The sophomore had 16 points in just the first half, including four 3-pointers. He added a single three-point basket in the second half, playing just three minutes after the break following an ankle injury.
Despite not starting, Channels led Austin Peay with 11 points and five rebounds.
Illinois out-rebounded Austin Peay 42-24, dominating 24-7 when the Governors were shooting.
With guard Rich McBride temporarily benched following a DUI arrest, Illinois went with a larger lineup than the three-guard game plan coach Bruce Weber has said he’d like to see this season.
Illinois Freshman Brian Carlwell contributed in spite of rumors he might redshirt this season. Carlwell drew huge cheers late in the game when he dunked for the first points of his college career; the Maywood, Ill. native also had six rebounds.