The #12 Illinois Fighting Illini bounced back from their only loss of the season by defeating the Auburn Tigers at the United Center, 81-79.
Illinois continued their overall success at the United Center and brought their overall record to 33-11 in games played at the UC in school history. This win snapped a three game losing streak at the UC for the Illini. Before this game, they had lost five of six games after winning 18 games in a row at the UC.
The Fighting Illini led the Tigers by 11-points at one point in the second half, but they saw that lead vanish towards the end of the game. However, they pulled out the victory in the end.
Auburn’s senior guard Frankie Sullivan came up big for the Tigers in this game. He finished with 21 points and made five 3-pointers in the contest. One of those 3-pointers came with 4:29 remaining in the game which pulled Auburn within one, 68-67.
However, Illinois made 13 of 18 free throws down the stretch after their lead fell to a single point.
The Fighting Illini received nice performances from sophomore guard Tracy Abrams and senior guard Brandon Paul. Abrams was the star of the game for the Illini. He scored career-high 27 points, hauled in eight rebounds, and made 13 of 15 free throws. On the other hand, Paul did score 10 points, but only made three field goals all game. Paul also turned the ball over six times.
One thing the Illini did well in the game against Auburn was get to the foul line. Overall, they shot 40 free throws in the game and made 27 of them. Abrams and Paul combined for 20 points from the charity stripe in the game (Paul made 7 of 10 free throws).
Besides Frankie Sullivan, Auburn got a nice game out of junior forward Allen Payne. Payne recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and a season-high 10 rebounds.
The Fighting Illini are now 13-1 on the season.
Their next game will be their Big Ten Conference opener against the Purdue Boilermakers on January 2nd. The Boilermakers defeated William & Mary, 73-66, in their last game. Purdue is 6-6 this season.
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