Southeast Missouri State (0-1) held a slim lead for the most of the first half, but Maverick Morgan and the Illinois Fighting Illini (1-0) eventually took control to win their season opener by a final of 81-62. Morgan was a dominant offensive force against the undersized Redhawks frontcourt; the senior tallied 16 points on a perfect 8-8 shooting night.
Malcolm Hill was the victim of a slow start — perhaps explaining why the Orange and Blue were sluggish out of the gate — however he predictably found his rhythm in the second half. Hill ended with a game-high 21 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists on 6-11 shooting from the field (2-6 3PT).
Of course, Illinois’ best story of the night may have been Tracy Abrams. The sixth-year senior had missed the previous two seasons with various injuries, but he finally returned to the State Farm Center to display what appeared to be an improved shooting stroke. Abrams logged 13 points and 3 assists on an efficient 4-5 night.
For the Redhawks, Milos Vranes had a team-high 12 points off the bench, and forward Trey Kellum led the squad with 7 rebounds — 4 of which came on the offensive end.
The Fighting Illini will be back in action on Sunday, November 13 to face Northern Kentucky at the State Farm Center. The game is scheduled to tip off at 5:00pm CT.