I have no idea where Illinois basketball would be without Malcolm Hill, but they certainly wouldn’t be sitting at 7-3 on the season. The star senior put on his cape Tuesday night as he saved the Fighting Illini from an absolutely embarrasing effort against the IUPUI Jaguars (3-6). After starting off a bit slow, Hill finished the contest with 32 points — including 23 in the second half — and 4 rebounds on 11-18 shooting from the field. Illinois ultimately won the game by a final score of 85-77.
The Orange and Blue opened the night with a quick 10-0 run, however IUPUI immediately responded with an unlikely 20-5 streak to take the lead about midway through the first half. Despite shooting pretty well (55.1 FG%), turnovers were preventing Illinois’ offense from establishing any sort of wasn’t consistency, and the Jaguars entered the break with a 42-41 lead as a result.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, IUPUI seemed to be in control for most of the second half. The hot shooting touch of Matt O’Leary was a constant thorn in Illinois’ side; the senior accounted for a team-high 25 points and 6 rebounds on 7-15 shooting. It took a few lucky bounces and breaks for the Illini to establish a lead, but they were able to hold off the Jaguars when it counted most down the stretch.
Hill was obviously the star for Illinois, but Leron Black had another very strong night — which is quickly becoming a trend here in the early part of the schedule. The sophomore logged 16 points and 9 rebounds while essentially being the team’s only threat to score from inside the arch.
Illinois will be back in action on December 10 for another non-conference matchup against the Central Michigan Chippewas (8-2). Opening tip has been scheduled for 2:00pm CT and the contest will be broadcasted on BTN Plus.