Illinois shot a season-low 35 percent from the floor but found a way to pull it out despite its recent trend of not playing its best at home. And with 14 points, Brandon Paul passed Bruce Douglas for 24th on the all-time scoring list. Paul now has 1,265 for his career.
What the Spartans said
“We have guys who are here from last year’s team, they’re used to the big arenas, the bigger crowds. We went down to Longwood, which is a great environment, and that prepared us. We have a few new guys, but I think they did a good job collectively of keeping their composure.” — Coach Anthony Evans
What the Illini said
“Over the course of the 40 minutes, I didn’t think our effort level, our focus was where it’s been and that’s my responsibility. I didn’t have them ready to play. We’ll figure it out, these guys are tough guys, I love being around them.” — Coach John Groce
What it means
The Illini haven’t played a complete game at home since before Thanksgiving, but they have found ways to come through in the clutch and have now won 21 straight at home against nonconference opponents.
A home date with Eastern Kentucky, which at 9-0 is off to its best start in 66 years. The Colonels, who are ranked 23rd in the latest midmajor poll, beat Norfolk State by 24 earlier this season.