The Fighting Illini kicked off their four-game overseas exhibition tour on Tuesday afternoon with a 68-63 victory over Waragem (Belgium). Sophomore forward Leron Black put up a double-double (16 points and 14 rebounds) to lead the way for Illinois. Senior center Mike Thorne Jr. also had a nice debut with 10 points and 9 rebounds.
Illinois' starters were D.J. Williams, Kendrick Nunn, Malcolm Hill, Leron Black, and Maverick Morgan.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Video highlights from the <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Illini?src=hash">#Illini</a> 68-63 victory over Waregem Tuesday in Belgium. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/eurotrip?src=hash">#eurotrip</a> <a href="http://t.co/OXcQJ9qse2">http://t.co/OXcQJ9qse2</a></p>— Illini Basketball (@IlliniMBB) <a href="https://twitter.com/IlliniMBB/status/631239526988431360">August 11, 2015</a></blockquote>
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Jalen Coleman-Lands (leg stress fracture) and Darius Paul (shoulder) sat out today's contest; don't expect them to suit up for any of the four games. Tracy Abrams (Achilles tendon) isn't traveling with the team due to a scheduling conflict with his surgery. New Illini point guard Khalid Lewis isn't on the trip either because he didn't join the the team in time.
Disclaimer: I don't care about the level of competition Illinois was playing against, and you shouldn't either.
- Jaylon Tate will be getting a lot of playing time over the next ten days, but it was interesting to see that D.J. Williams got the first start at point guard. The 6'7 freshman played the position at times during high school and the coaching staff has been experimenting with him there due to the team's lack of depth. Malcolm Hill has also been getting reps in the back court.
- 19 turnovers to just 9 assists is not good. With that said, it looks like D.J. Williams at least held his own while playing point guard by recording 2 assists and 2 turnovers.
- Illinois' offensive presence in the low post was huge. Let me repeat that: Illinois' offensive presence in the low post was huge. When's the last time we could say that? Leron Black and Mike Thorne Jr. combined for 26 points. It wasn't just them, either because it sounds like both Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn were finishing at the rim.
- It appears there were set substitutional patterns heading into this game since there were 'line changes' near the middle of each quarter. Not too surprising because after all this is an exhibition tour. The goal is to stay healthy while giving everyone on the roster some in-game reps.
The Illini will be back in action on Wednesday at 12:00pm CT to take on the Netherlands National Team. You can view the team's full schedule here.