Illinois overpowers Marshall
Sophomore forward Kipper Nichols needed just 18 minutes to rack up a career-high 17 points and 11 rebounds as Illinois pulled away for a 91-74 nonconference win over Marshall on Sunday afternoon in Champaign, Ill.
Junior forward Leron Black delivered 17 points and nine rebounds for Illinois, which dominated the offensive boards by a 17-6 margin.
Freshman guard Mark Smith and junior forward Michael Finke added 13 points apiece for the Illini (4-0). Freshman guard Trent Frazier contributed 10 points.
Marshall came to town with junior guard Jon Elmore, the nation’s No. 3 scorer at 28.3 points per game, but Illinois frustrated him into 2-of-11 shooting as he settled for 14 points.
Freshman guard Jarrod West took advantage of the attention paid to Elmore, scoring 23 points. He buried the first five 3-point shots he tried.
The Thundering Herd (2-2) stayed with the Illini early with 3-point shooting, shrugging off early foul trouble against junior forward Ajdin Penava (18.3 points per game) and junior guard C.J. Burks (17.7 ppg). Penava scored 15 points, and Burks had 12.
Illinois claimed a 35-26 lead on Frazier’s 3-pointer, but Marshall responded with 3-pointers from West and Elmore to pull within three. The Illini were up 46-36 at halftime.
Illinois seized control at the outset of the second half when Smith and Black took over.
Smith triggered a quick spree with a jumper and a hanging scoop layup. Black followed with a jumper, a tip-in and another jumper to push the Illini ahead 58-40 with 16 minutes to play.