Illinois escapes Austin Peay, 64-57
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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Michael Finke scored 17 points and grabbed eight rebounds to help Illinois squeeze out a 64-57 victory over Austin Peay on Wednesday night.
The Illini (7-3) shot just 39.6 percent from the field and made just 21 field goals, but it was enough to snap a three-game losing streak.
Illinois made 6 of 9 shot attempts to start the game and jumped out to an early 13-6 lead but went scoreless for almost six minutes. The Governors went on an 11-0 run to take the lead but weren’t able to sustain an offensive rhythm either, shooting only 41.4 percent from the field.
The turning point came with just under five minutes left in the game. Locked at 50, Kipper Nichols stole an entry pass to the post and pushed the ball ahead. On the other end, Da’Monte Williams spotted up on the right wing, and nailed a 3-pointer to push the Illini ahead for good.
With 19.6 seconds left, Te’Jon Lucas was fouled on a layup attempt. He knocked down both free throws to make it a two-possession game and seal the victory.
In his first career start, Williams finished with five points, four rebounds and a team-high three steals.
The Governors were led by freshman Terry Taylor and senior Averyl Ugba. Both players combined for 28 points and 15 rebounds, but their performances weren’t enough to help Austin Peay (4-5) steal a victory from its fourth Power Five opponent of the season.
Illinois has now won 12 consecutive non-conference home games.
Austin Peay: The Governors struggled on offense, but applied a lot of pressure on defense. The Governors had six different players record a steal and made things very difficult for the Illini on the perimeter.
Illinois: The Illini continued to struggle with slow starts and scored just 26 points first-half points for the second straight game.
Austin Peay: The Governors are off until next Saturday, Dec. 16. Austin Peay will take on Evansville to cap a two-game road trip.
Illinois: The Illini are back in action Friday night at UNLV. Freshman Brandon McCoy – averaging 20 points and 11.2 rebounds – has led the Runnin’ Rebels to a 4-2 record at home.