LAHAINA, Hawaii — Illinois is treating Division II Chaminade like a tough opponent at the Maui Invitational, even after routing USC by 30 points on Monday night.
Illinois coach John Groce said the second-round game in the winner's bracket of the tournament would be a "great challenge" for his players.
"They've been in plenty of intimidating environments, I can assure you. We know (Tuesday) will be one," Groce said.
Illinois made USC look inferior hours after Chaminade knocked off Texas.
Brandon Paul scored 26 points and Illinois used a hot first half to ride to an easy 94-64 win.
Illinois shot just under 69 percent in the first half on its way to a 31-point lead at the break. USC pulled no closer than 18 points in the second half despite some sloppy play from Illinois, which finished with 20 turnovers.
The Illini (4-0), who never trailed, also got 13 points from DJ Richardson and 10 from Tyler Griffey. Tracy Abrams had 11 points and eight assists, one more than the entire Trojans team.
"We came out, got off to a great start, had a lot of energy, really moved the ball. It was a free-flowing first half," Groce said. "I thought the tempo was to our liking."
Up 9-8 roughly five minutes into the game, Illinois outscored USC 21-3 over the next six minutes. The Illini boosted their lead to 34 just after halftime on a 3-pointer from Griffey and were never seriously threatened.
USC (2-1) was led by Eric Wise with 13 points. J.T. Terrell added 11 and Jio Fontan had 10 — eight in the first half.
"Tonight, we didn't do anything. We got set back on our heels," USC coach Kevin O'Neill said. "Once they started making shots, their confidence grew and ours went down."
Illinois badly outrebounded USC 42-20, grabbing as many offensive rebounds (15) as USC had defensive rebounds.
The Illini were playing their second game in Hawaii during the trip after beating Hawaii in Oahu on Friday in overtime.
USC failed in its bid to go undefeated in its first three games for the first time in 11 years.
"The way we played, I certainly hope that's not indicative of our team. Tonight, we didn't do anything we wanted to do offensively or defensively," O'Neill said. "I've been at SC for four years now and we've never got beaten that bad, and we had a bad team last year and we didn't get beat that bad."
The Illini are trying to return to the Maui title game for the first time since 2000, when Bill Self's first team lost to Arizona in the eventual championship.
“We obviously played really well. I thought we played well at both ends and had everything clicking,” Groce said. “We really emphasized playing with more pace and I thought our pace really hit them between the eyes in the first half.”
Illinois, which moved to 7-3 all-time in the Maui Invitational, has never played Chaminade, the Division II program from Honolulu.
“It’s going to take a good effort tomorrow to get it done,” Groce said.
Abrams had six rebounds and eight assists for Illinois, which moved to 4-0 for the fourth time in the last five seasons.
The Illini shot 69 percent (22 for 32) from the floor in the first half in the first half, including 8 for 14 from behind the three-point line. They turned 12 first-half Trojans turnovers into 24 points. The Illini made their last 11 field goals of the first half en route to taking a 57-26 lead into the locker room. Illinois scored 40 or more points for the third time this season, something it accomplished once in 2011-12. In 32 games last season, Illinois scored 57 or fewer points for an entire game seven times.
“Our guys really executed and I thought they were locked in,” Groce said. “One of our goals was to come out tonight and get off to a great start because in the Hawaii game, I thought we got stung early. Fortunately for us, we responded well on Friday night when we got hit in the mouth. That was a great experience for us to see that and go through that.”
Illinois also out-rebounded the bigger Trojans, whose roster featured three 7-footers, 42-20. Along with Abrams, Paul, Nnanna Egwu (eight points) and Sam McLaurin (seven points) all had six rebounds. Joseph Bertrand (nine points) added five boards.
“The guards needed to step up (rebounding) because our big we’re going to be inactive boxing out the big 7-footers. I think everybody did a good job,” Paul said.
— Oskar Garcia
SOUTHERN CAL (2-1)
Fontan 2-8 5-6 10, Dedmon 3-4 3-4 9, Terrell 5-14 0-0 11, Wesley 1-2 2-2 4, Wise 5-7 2-4 13, Woolridge 1-1 0-0 2, Allen 1-3 0-0 2, Stewart 0-1 0-0 0, Bryan 1-5 3-4 5, Taylor 0-0 0-0 0, Fuller 1-3 0-0 2, Blasczyk 2-2 0-0 4, Oraby 1-2 0-0 2. Totals 23-52 15-20 64.<
Richardson 3-9 5-7 13, Paul 9-15 2-2 26, Abrams 5-7 0-0 11, Egwu 4-7 0-0 8, Griffey 4-7 0-0 10, McLaurin 2-4 3-3 7, Bertrand 3-5 3-3 9, LaTulip 1-1 0-0 3, Shaw 0-0 0-0 0, Henry 2-7 0-0 5, Langford 0-0 0-0 0, Djimde 0-0 0-0 0, Berardini 0-0 2-2 2. Totals 33-62 15-17 94.<
Halftime_Illinois 57-26. 3-Point Goals_Southern Cal 3-12 (Wise 1-1, Fontan 1-2, Terrell 1-6, Allen 0-1, Bryan 0-1, Stewart 0-1), Illinois 13-29 (Paul 6-9, Griffey 2-3, Richardson 2-6, LaTulip 1-1, Abrams 1-3, Henry 1-4, Egwu 0-1, Bertrand 0-2). Fouled Out_None. Rebounds_Southern Cal 20 (Fuller 5), Illinois 42 (Abrams, Egwu, McLaurin, Paul 6). Assists_Southern Cal 7 (Allen, Fontan, Fuller, Stewart, Terrell, Wesley, Wise 1), Illinois 17 (Abrams 8). Total Fouls_Southern Cal 17, Illinois 19. A_2,400.