The No. 13 Illinois Fighting Illini defeated the Western Carolina Catamounts, 72-64, to stay undefeated on the season. The Catamounts are now 1-14 all-time against teams from the Big Ten Conference.
Despite getting the win, it was not a great night for the Illini early on. They went 3 of 14 from the field to start the game, but managed to lead 32-22 at halftime after a 15-8 run to end the half.
The second half was not very different as the two teams were tied 54-54 with 5:53 left. It was at that point when Illinois began to pull away in the game.
Senior guard D.J. Richardson hit 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions for a 62-56 lead. He finished the game with 13 points and went 4 of 6 from the foul line.
Tracy Abrams also helped the Illini late in the game.
Abrams made two free throws after a Western Carolina turnover and hit another basket on the next possession. He finished the game with ten points, five rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Brandon Paul led the Illini with 14 points. Illinois only shot 40 percent from the field and did not receive much production out of Joseph Bertrand tonight off the bench.
Western Carolina turned the ball over 22 times, but still hung in the game. Their leading scorer was Preston Ross who finished with 17 points. James Sinclair also added 13 points and eight rebounds. Brandon Boggs had 16 points off the bench for the Catamounts.
The Fighting Illini are now 9-0 on the season.
Illinois will need to play much better in their next game against the Gonzaga Bulldogs on December 8th. Gonzaga is also undefeated at 8-0 and could be 9-0 before playing the Illini. The Bulldogs are the best shooting team in the nation. They are ranked 1st in field goal percentage with .533.
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