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.

Austin American-Statesman - - COLLEGES - Robin Scholz / ap PHOTO

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.

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