No. 14 Illinois 72, Western
Carolina 64: Brandon Paul scored a team-high 14 points to help the
Illini stay unbeaten by holding off a game effort by
the visiting Catamounts.
Illinois (9-0) had just a
two-point lead with five minutes to play before going on an 8-0 run
to open up a double-digit advantage with 2:24 to play. Western Carolina
never got closer than six the rest of the way.
D.J. Richardson added 13 points
for the Illini, including three 3-pointers. Tracy Abrams chipped
in 10 points for the Illini, who shot just 29.2 percent (7-for-24) from beyond the arc.
Preston Ross paced the Catamounts
(3-6) with 17 points, while Brandon Boggs added 16, including 4-for-5
shooting from 3-point range. WCU also got a 13-point, eight-rebound
effort from James Sinclair and 10 points from Tawaski King.
Trey Sumler came into the game
averaging a team-best 17.6 points per game for the Catamounts but
shot just 3-for-10 from the field, finishing with eight points and eight turnovers.
GAME NOTEBOOK: Illinois first-year coach
John Groce's 9-0 start is the second-best start for a coach in school history, behind Fletcher
Lane's 12-0 start in 1907-08. … Western Carolina's 20 field goals
marked a season-low total for the Catamounts, one fewer than the
previous low of 21 in the season opener against UNC-Asheville. …
Illinois next plays at No.
10 Gonzaga on Saturday. Western Carolina plays at home for the first time since
Nov. 21 when it hosts Appalachian State on Saturday.