EditorsNote: updates Feliz’s scoring total in second graf
Senior guard Aaron Jordan scored 19 points to pace five Illinois players in double figures as the Illini opened Brad Underwood’s second season as head coach with a 99-60 victory over Evansville on Thursday night in Champaign, Ill.
Junior point guard Andres Feliz scored 16 points off the bench in his Division I debut while freshman guard Ayo Dosunmu (18 points, six rebounds), junior forward Kipper Nichols (13 points) and sophomore guard Trent Frazier (10 points, seven assists) also hit double figures in the rout for Illinois.
Junior forward K.J. Riley paced Evansville (0-1) with 14 points, and senior swingman Marty Hill added 13 points and six rebounds as the Purple Aces were outmanned in Walter McCarty’s head-coaching debut. McCarty, who spent the past five years as Brad Stevens’ assistant with the Boston Celtics, had just eight scholarship players at his disposal.
Evansville held an 8-7 lead after three minutes, but it wasn’t long before the new-look Illini seized control. Illinois broke open the game early as Jordan — the team’s lone senior — scored eight consecutive points in a one-minute stretch to give the Illini a 30-14 lead midway through the first half.
The Illini pushed the lead to 53-22 by halftime as they shredded Evansville’s zone by hitting 8 of 18 3-point tries while the Purple Aces made just 1 of 9. Jordan, Dosunmu and Frazier all hit double figures by the break while unheralded freshman center Giorgi Bezhanishvili grabbed all 10 of his rebounds in the first half.
Underwood’s squad, which features just four scholarship returnees from last year’s 14-18 squad, didn’t let up after the break as sophomore guard Da’Monte Williams’ layup pushed the margin to 97-55 with 2:59 to go.
Illinois, one of the Big Ten’s worst 3-point shooting teams last year, shot 12 of 27 from long range and 56.3 percent from the field overall.
Evansville’s 100th season began without 6-foot-9, 240-pound senior forward Dainius Chatkevicius, a returning starter who averaged 4.8 points and 5.4 rebounds last year. The Purple Aces confirmed before the game that he was suspended three games for a violation of team rules.
—Field Level Media