- By Kyle Stackpole Land of 10
Illinois basketball opened the season with a 102-55 win against Southern. Find the score and live updates below.
Check here for live updates from the Fighting Illini and Jaguars.
FINAL: Illinois 102, Southern 55, Box Score
The Illini made 32 of 63 attempts, shooting 50.8 percent from the field. Mark Alstork and Aaron Jordan both scored 17 points in the win.
Illinois hosts Southern at 7 p.m. CT on Friday, Nov. 10.
Time: 7 p.m. ET
Date: Friday, Nov. 10
Location: State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill.
Illinois is a team without much experience. Underwood said as much at Big Ten media day on Oct. 19.
The Fighting Illini lost guard Malcolm Hill to graduation after leading the team at 17.2 points per game. In fact, the two-time second-team All-Big Ten selection averaged at least 14.4 points the last three seasons. Hill went undrafted and now plays for Telekom Baskets Bonn of the Basketball Bundesliga in Germany. They also graduated center Maverick Morgan and guard Tracy Abrams, last season’s second and third leading scorers, respectively.
Junior forward Leron Black, who averaged 8.1 points per game a year ago, is Illinois’ highest returning scorer.
Still, Underwood, who coached at Oklahoma State last season and Stephen F. Austin before that, is excited about his group and is looking forward to filling the State Farm Center, where the Fighting Illini will kick off the 2017-18 campaign.
Point guard Te’Jon Lucas averaged about 20 minutes off the bench last season, but he seems to be the go-to facilitating option as a sophomore. Underwood called Lucas his type of point guard, calling him “pitbull,” and praised his defense. The first-year coach has also seen better leadership out of Lucas.
Meanwhile, Underwood loves the physicality of the freshman guard Mark Smith, who is listed at 6-foot-4 and 225 pounds.
“Physically looks the part of a 21-, 22-year-old guy,” Underwood said.
Underwood said Smith is “very special” and added the 4-star guard reminds him of Jason Kidd. He thinks Smith will be a tough matchup wherever he is on the court.
In June, Illinois added another member to its 2017 recruiting class: Slovenian big man Matic Vesel. The 6-foot-9 forward should help sure up the Fighting Illini’s frontcourt, especially when they go up against bigger teams in Big Ten play.
Southern, meanwhile, finished fourth in the Southwestern Athletic Conference last season with a 10-8 league record and a 15-18 mark overall. The Jaguars lost to Alcorn State in the conference tournament semifinals.
They enter this year without Shawn Prudhomme, last year’s leading scorer (17.5 points per game). However, they return forward Jared Sam, who averaged 13.6 points as a junior a season ago.
Southern has a difficult nonconference schedule, traveling Marshall and Missouri State after Friday’s game with the Fighting Illini. Then the Jaguars travel to Cameron Indoor Stadium to play top-ranked Duke on Nov. 17. They also have road tests against Iowa, UCF, Tulane and Baylor before starting conference play against Texas Southern on New Year’s Day.
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