The Illinois Fighting Illini entered Saturday’s game against VCU looking to build upon a huge victory over N.C State their last time out, and they managed to do just that. The Orange and Blue overcame a sluggish 1-12 shooting start to top the Rams by a final score of 64-46 at American Airlines Arena in Miami, FL. Leron Black earned MVP honors after totaling a career-high 18 points and 8 rebounds on 6-13 shooting from the field.
Illinois (6-3) found themselves trailing 11-3 at the under-12 mark of the first half due largely in part to the previously mentioned ice-cold start from the field. Evidently, though, the Illini shooters just needed a little more time to acclimate themselves as they proceeded to go on a 19-3 run to take a 22-14 lead; VCU (6-2) was held without a field goal for 7:15 minutes during that stretch. Illinois took a 31-21 lead into halftime.
While the Rams came out firing with an 11-0 run of their own, Illinois was able to pull away over the final 10:00 minutes thanks to another surprising defensive effort. VCU became the victim of another prolonged shooting drought during the final 7:37 minutes of play, which aided the Illini as they outscored their competition 14-3 down the stretch.
Malcolm Hill had 16 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists. Jalen Coleman-Lands was the third Illinois player to reach double figures with 12 points, however he had an uncharacteristically poor 0-5 night from beyond the arch.
VCU’s anemic offensive effort was led by Mo Alie-Cox, who scored 10 points on 3-5 shooting in 27 minutes of game time.
Illinois will return to the State Farm Center on December 6 for another non-conference matchup against the IUPUI Jaguars. Opening tip has been scheduled for 7:00pm CT and the contest will be broadcasted on ESPN3.