Second-half surge carries No. 11 Illini to eighth straight win
=== Second-half surge carries No. 11 Illini to eighth straight win ===
Champaign, IL (Sports Network) – Freshman guard Jamar Smith scored a career-
high 23 points and drained six three-pointers, as No. 11 Illinois used a big
second-half run to defeat Arkansas-Little Rock, 75-49, at Assembly Hall.
James Augustine added 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Dee Brown
dished out 10 assists for Illinois (8-0), which scored 19 straight points
during a second-half stretch to pull away.
Brian Randle and Warren Carter each tallied 11 points in the victory.
The victory extended Illinois’ home winning streak to 25 games, which
currently ranks fourth in the nation behind Washington, Gonzaga and Southern
Illinois. The Fighting Illini have also won 42 straight games at Assembly Hall
against non-conference opponents.
Lekheythan Malone led Arkansas-Little Rock (3-3) with 17 points and Elijah
Muldrow contributed 10 points in the loss.
The Trojans trailed just 32-28 at intermission and hung tight for the opening
minutes of the second half, but after Byron Ray’s layup cut the deficit to
41-39 with 12:50 to play, Illinois took control.
The 19-0 spurt spearheaded by Smith’s outside touch put what was a tight game
out of reach. Smith drained two three-pointers and five different Illini
players contributed to the streak.
Malone’s three-pointer with 5:31 to play was the Trojans’ first field goal
since Ray’s bucket — a span of over seven minutes — but by that time
Illinois had opened a 62-44 advantage.
The Illini coasted the rest of the way.
Arkansas-Little Rock, which battled No. 14 Michigan State to the wire in a
72-67 loss on Saturday, didn’t look rattled playing in front of a throng of
orange in Assembly Hall.
After falling behind 18-10 on Marcus Arnold’s layup with 8:37 left in the
half, the Trojans chipped away and traded basket-for-basket with Illinois the
rest of the opening 20 minutes.
They cut the lead to four at the half on Zack Wright’s layup at the buzzer.
Malone poured in 12 first-half points to keep the Trojans within striking
Illinois has won all three lifetime meetings with the Trojans…The Illini won
their first eight games for the third time in four years. They opened the
2002-03 season with eight straight wins and won their first 29 games last
season…Illinois shot 49 percent from the floor and held a 41-28 rebounding
edge…The Illini bench outscored the Trojans’ bench 39-7.