Illinois ties program record with 16 3s in 112-65 rout of McKendree
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(AP) Jalen Coleman-Lands and Maverick Morgan scored 18 points apiece to lead six players in double figures, and Illinois tied a single-game program record with 16 3-pointers in a 112-65 victory over Division II McKendree on Tuesday night.
The 16 triples, which also marked a State Farm Center record, were the most Illinois has hit in a game since its memorable 2015 NCAA tournament comeback victory vs. Arizona.
The game was a strong response from Coleman-Lands, who struggled in the first two games of the season.
“It feels good (to get my shot going), especially with the last two games,” Coleman-Lands said. “My teammates just do a good job of trusting me. It’s just about repetition and getting ready for the next game.”
Michael Finke had 17 points, on 8-of-10 shooting, and eight rebounds and Tracy Abrams was 5-of-5 from the field with four 3-pointers and finished with 14 points and six assists. Aaron Jordan scored 11, including three 3s, and Mike Thorne Jr. had 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Illinois (3-0) opened the game with a 7-0 run, including five points by Finke, and never trailed.
Coleman-Lands hit 3-pointers on three-consecutive possessions to make it 21-10 with 12:28 left in the first half and the Illini led by double figures the rest of the way.
The Illinois bench outscored McKendree’s reserves 59-23 and shot 56 percent from the field, including 16 of 28 (57 percent) from 3-point range.
Illinois head coach John Groce was proud of his team’s performance given his team’s sloppy play in the first two games.
“They responded today,” Groce said. “We have a long way to go, but they played hard today for a lot longer and I liked the attitudes and vibes on our team. That was a good step in the right direction.”
Nate Michael, son of former Illinois basketball player Tom Michael, led the McKendree (1-0) with 25 points. The game served as an exhibition for Bearcats.
Tuesday was a moment that Michael said he’ll never forget.
“It was a dream come true,” Michael said. “Growing up just down the road here, having season tickets when my dad worked here . I just wish we played a little bit better here. We definitely enjoyed ourselves, and this will help us in the future.”
Illinois: The Illini played the way they should against a Division-II team. Illinois will play two more relatively easy games before facing No. 19 West Virginia in the NIT Season Tip-Off on Nov. 24.
McKendree: The Bearcats had a good idea of how the game was going to go before the ball was even tipped. They’ll return to regular competition Saturday.
After scoring a career-high 40 points against Northern Kentucky on Sunday, Malcolm Hill was limited to three points.
Te’Jon Lucas got some early playing time after starter Tracy Abrams got into foul trouble. The freshman guard took advantage of the opportunity, finishing with nine points and six assists.
Coleman-Lands took a break from draining shots in the second half when he assisted Maverick Morgan on a behind-the-head pass.
Illinois hosts Detroit on Friday night as part of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.
McKendree returns to regular-season games Saturday when the Bearcats host Crowley’s Ridge on Saturday night.