UI 94, USC 64

UI 94, USC 64


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




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.

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aaeismacgychel wrote on November 20, 2012 at 2:11 am

Sorry for the repost, but I guess I beat MJ to the punch ;-)

We played lights out that first half. That was the best half of basketball we played since our OSU game last year. Everyone was making shots and we were firing on all cylinders. A lot of that was due to good movement away from the ball, good screens, outstanding calls on inbound passes, and really good decisions. Of course the fact that we were making jumpshots unlike last year also was a big reason we blew USC out of the gym. But what I was most impressed with was our defense. We played a hard frenetic feisty defense that first half that completely took USC out of their offense and made them play at a pace they were not accustomed to. The second half was sloppy, but when things started really slipping, Brandon Paul made two threes that bottomed out the net, had two steals, and one bringing down the house lob assist to Bertrand who slammed it down for the And 1. Very impressive overall game, but I warn people not to put too much on this blowout win. When a team plays at the level we did and everyone is draining shots from all over, you'll beat the best teams in the country, but the question is can you play consistently and can you make sure you don't have a letdown the next game. Next game tomorrow is Chaminade. Let's show our maturity and take care of business unlike Texas who overlooked them and were spanked.

Great game Illini, but remember, this is just one game (even though it was an 'A' game that was extremely impressive), the real test is coming off a great game and winning the next one against an easy to look over but dangerous opponent. GO ILLINI!

OrlandoIllini wrote on November 20, 2012 at 5:11 am

Agreed, and the first half was the best I can recall since 2005. I'll watch the second half tonight... taped it cause I had to get to bed for my 5 a.m. wake-up.

They were quick, tenacious, aggressive, unrelenting and made crisp passes. The teamwork was cohesive. And I'm talking about the Illini instead of their opponent for a change. And what a change... racing downcourt rather than walking, and no more 30 seconds of soft passes around the perimeter followed by a desperation 30-foot shot.

Yes, it's way early in the season, yet there is so much improvement. Haven't seen such good performance from Illini basketball in years. Welcome back!

geriatricillini wrote on November 20, 2012 at 7:11 am

One would have to be off the wall cynical to not like last night's result...I know it's only one of 32 games, but still...it was better than I saw the last half of last year...doing well in this tournament has been a good sign for teams in the past. The B10 is rough this year, but with our seniors, we have a chance to do well...better than I thought we could...based on things so far...it's early yet, but you have to like what you see on the floor. The Trojans couldn't recover from the 1st half blitz we put on them...that could bode well for us, in the league...we'll see....keep the pressure on other teams...the only way to play this game...been a while since one felt like this around here..GO ILLINI!!

dave1956 wrote on November 20, 2012 at 7:11 am

Agreed. Love to see us running up and down the floor.

illiniearl wrote on November 20, 2012 at 8:11 am

If you missed the game on TV you can see a replay of it on ESPN3 dot com.

If you missed it Illini nation, I strongly suggest you see the replay.   I know it's early in the season and maybe USC is an awful team, but this is an Illini team not seen since 2005 and since the flying Illini!    I'm a believer now in John Groce.   This will be a fun season.   Mike Thomas got this hire right.


Chitown wrote on November 20, 2012 at 8:11 am

The chains have been lifted!  No more baffled looks when Paul launches an airball 3.  The bench says: "Shoot more!".  Griffey is a new man.  He was the definition of shackled.

Onwards and upwards!  The talent is there.  Everyone knows it.  Let's run and gun team!  No more 54-48 wins!

Talent+this system=fun, exciting SUCCESSFUL year.

DaisyJ wrote on November 20, 2012 at 9:11 am

Anyone out there miss the no zone slow clock control Weber coaching style. Would we ever have got

94 points if he was at the helm. Never. Look, in most of the Weber years, even when we won, basketball was not fun to watch. Will be watching what is said in Kansas year end. Cannot wait to let them start in on the control freak Weber.

illiniearl wrote on November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

Wow!   If DaisyJ is impressed with this team, you know it will be a great year as he is tough to please.   You've softened up too by not refering to the previous coach as "Weborn"!   Looking forward to your cheerleading this basketball season.

DaisyJ wrote on November 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

Darn, forgot to use that term which I own. You got me.!  Will be getting the kansas papers used to it before it is all said and done.

npozzi wrote on November 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

Woooo!  LaTulip made the stats line.  Love it.

jdstieg wrote on November 20, 2012 at 12:11 pm

And if you noticed....we played some zone defense.......and looked good doing it.

JDG613 wrote on November 20, 2012 at 1:11 pm

Great game, and a good start to a new season under new leadership...

Noteworthy that the difference in the score is solely due to the 3-point shot...  Both teams made 20 2-point baskets and 15 free throws, but we made...not just shot, but MADE....10 more 3-pointers than USC, resulting in a 30-point victory.

Should be an exciting year....

orangeandblueblood wrote on November 20, 2012 at 5:11 pm

What showed the most about how well this team is coached???  When the bench cleared and we got a defensive stop, a three point basket and made free throws.  That showed me that Groce is coaching all these kids to play hard and they all are buying into his system.