Notes: Elbow injury sidelines Black

Notes: Elbow injury sidelines Black

LAS VEGAS — Leron Black was clearly in pain during the first half of Saturday’s game against UNLV. The Illinois redshirt junior forward kept clutching at his left elbow and even after getting it wrapped could barely move it when he re-entered the game.

The dozen first-half minutes Black posted against the Runnin’ Rebels were it. He didn’t immediately return to the court after halftime, and when he did he had his arm in a sling.

Illinois coach Brad Underwood said he was told by athletic trainer Paul Schmidt that Black had suffered a hyperextension of his left elbow.

“He’s down, obviously,” said Illinois redshirt junior forward Michael Finke. “When he gets back (to Champaign) they’ll take care of him, and hopefully we can get him back soon.”

Illinois still managed to out-rebound UNLV — holding junior forward Shakur Juiston to half his season average — without Black.

“He’s a huge player for us offensively and defensively and on the boards both ways,” Finke said. “It was a big loss for us, but I thought still as a team we stepped it up together and we executed for the most part.”
With Black sitting out the entire second half and Finke dealing with foul trouble, Greg Eboigbodin came within one minute of tying his season high for playing time he set in the season opener against Southern with 11 minutes. The 6-foot-9 freshman forward had three rebounds and finished off an alley oop from Mark Smith with a thunderous dunk.

“Other than his fouls in the backcourt, Greg’s activity I loved,” Underwood said. “He’s going to help us on the glass. Defensively, he’s got some length and he’s got some presence. I’d like to get another 4-8 minutes a game out of him to be quite honest right at this point, but he can’t commit the fouls he’s committing.

“I’m pleased with his maturation to this point, and I love his effort. He tries his tail off.”
Finke ran his streak of missed three-pointers to an even dozen during Saturday’s game, but the 6-10 forward did manage to get two to drop late in the second half as Illinois tried to rally against the Runnin’ Rebels.

“Finally,” he said with a true look of relief on his face. "I feel like they’re right there. I’ve just got to keep shooting them when I’m open. I wish I could have got some earlier to fall, but I got a couple to go. I’ve just got to keep shooting it.”
Aaron Jordan, who has not struggled from three-point range, made 2 of 3 three-pointers of his own. But the Illini junior forward also attacked the basket more, taking what the UNLV defense gave him.

“That’s what I’m going to have to start doing,” Jordan said. “Scouting reports definitely don’t leave me open.”
Freshman guard Da’Monte Williams tied his career high with eight points against UNLV. He got a three-pointer to fall and also had two rebounds and two assists. Add in his defensive presence and it was a typical performance for the Peoria native.

“Da’Monte’s got an uncanny confidence,” Underwood said. “He amazes me because he hasn’t played in a year. There’s no self doubt. There’s just a tremendous confidence and air about him.”