Forward Kipper Nichols scored 19 points as Illinois took control in the first half and dominated visiting Rutgers en route to a 91-60 rout Tuesday night at State Farm Arena in Champaign, Ill.
Freshman Trent Frazier added 15 of his 17 points in the first half as Illinois (12-11, 2-8 Big Ten) won its second straight conference game after losing its first eight. The Fighting Illini followed up Wednesday’s 73-71 win over Indiana by shooting a season-best 56.9 percent.
Nichols and Frazier were a combined 13 of 21 from the floor. Frazier also hit five 3-pointers as Illinois made 11 of 27 attempts from long range.
Leron Black added 14 while Mark Alstork contributed 12 for Illinois.
Geo Baker led Rutgers (12-12, 2-9) with 19 points, but leading scorer Corey Sanders was held to 10 as the Scarlet Knights lost their fourth straight.
After going scoreless in Saturday’s loss to Penn State, Sanders never developed a rhythm and finished 3 of 12 from the floor.
Neither did the rest of the Scarlet Knights.
Rutgers shot 42.2 percent and committed a season-worst 25 turnovers, resulting in 37 points for Illinois.
Illinois took the lead for good at 10-8 on a 3-point play by Nichols nearly five minutes into the game. The Illini took a five-point lead on a 3-pointer by Alstork on their next possession and didn’t score for another 4:38 when a layup by Te‘Jon Lucas sparked a 13-0 run.
After Rutgers broke a scoring drought of nearly three minutes, Frazier hit consecutive 3-pointers for a 32-14 lead with 5:56 left and Illinois carried a 41-22 lead into halftime.
Illinois took its first 30-point lead less than five minutes into the second half on a jumper by Black. With 8:35 left, Nichols hit a 3-pointer to push the margin over 40 for the first time at 82-39.
--Field Level Media