Illinois has had a history of slow starts, but they shook off that trend against a tough opponent before the fall break. The Illini faced early deficits of at least eight in each of their three games against low or mid-major opponents. However, they led nearly wire-to-wire in an 88-60 win over Southern on Sunday.
Terrence Shannon Jr. had a game-high 24 points, while Dain Dainja added 12 points and Quincy Guerrier had 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman big Amani Hansberry had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists off the bench.
Dainja had 10 points in the first 6:40, including the Illini’s first four made field goals. He was in double-figures for the second straight game starting in place of the injured Coleman Hawkins. Niccolo Moretti gave the Illini an offensive spark off the bench for the second straight game as well. He had four points, three assists, and three rebounds in the first half, including one for an Amani Hansberry layup that gave the Illini a 23-17 lead with 9:21 left in the first half. Moretti left the game late in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return, while Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn also left in the final minute with an injury.
Southern came into the contest ranked 37th in forced turnover rate according to Kenpom, which allowed them to speed up Illinois into some miscues early on. The Illini finished with 21 turnovers after having ten turnovers within just their first sixteen minutes of play. Shannon put together a personal 12-point run late in