No. 10 Illinois improves to 12-0 with 13-point win
Illini roll despite 20 turnovers and hitting just 6 of their 23 3-point shots.
First-year Illinois coach John Groce liked his team’s play much better than his outfit.
Brandon Paul scored 17 points, Tracy Adams added 13 and the No. 10 Illini pulled away late to remain unbeaten with a 66-53 victory over Eastern Kentucky on Sunday night.
In a game between undefeated teams, the host Illini led by 11 early but needed a late 12-2 run to gain control and help Groce become just the second coach in Illinois history to win his first 12 games. Groce matched the school record for the best start by a first-year coach set by Fletcher Lane in 1907.
“I usually wear navy blue, gray or black,” said Groce, who wore an orange sport coat for the first time. “Then coach (Lou) Henson and I talked this summer. I told him when he came back from Las Cruces (N.M.), I’d wear an orange coat out of respect for him.”
Groce stood for pictures before the game with Henson, the legendary Illini coach who made the orange wardrobe his trademark.
Illinois, off to its best start since opening the
S2005-06 season 15-0, was sluggish on offense, going 6 of 23 from the 3-point line with 20 turnovers.
“Obviously, we didn’t make as many 3s as we’d like,” said Groce. “Sometimes that happens. That’s when you have to rely on defense and rebounding.”
Illinois never trailed thanks to holding Eastern Kentucky (9-1) to 36-percent shooting overall. The Colonels shot 27 percent from the 3-point line and 38 percent from the freethrow line. Corey Walden led Eastern Kentucky with 21 points.
No. 24 Oklahoma State 91, Central Arkansas 63: Le’Bryan Nash scored 19 points, Markel Brown had 14 points and eight rebounds, and the host Cowboys (8-1) beat the Bears (4-4). Jordan Harks tied a career high with 16 points and Jarvis Garner had 14 for Central Arkansas.
Illinois’ Tracy Abrams shoots for 2 of his 13 points in Sunday’s win over Eastern Kentucky.