Hill gets Illinois over hump in victory over N.C. State
Senior swingman Malcolm Hill and sophomore forward Leron Black scored 30 of their 37 points in the second half to spark Illinois to an 88-74 victory over North Carolina State in ACC/Big Ten Challenge play on Tuesday night in Champaign, Ill.
Hill, who subsisted on five free throws in the first half, finished with a team-high 22 points, nine rebounds and four assists to help Illinois (5-3) snap a three-game losing streak. Senior guard Tracy Abrams posted 17 points and three steals while Black came off the bench to score 13 of his 15 points after halftime.
North Carolina State (5-2) shot 52.8 percent from the field and 92.3 percent at the line, but couldn’t overcome 19 turnovers in its only true road game during non-conference play. Sophomore guard Torin Dorn led the Wolfpack with 17 points and seven rebounds and junior forward Abdul-Malik Abu added 16 points.
Five-star freshman point guard Dennis Smith Jr., who had posted at least 20 points in each of North Carolina State’s last four games, settled for 12 points on 4-of-11 shooting. The Wolfpack entered the game with more free throws made than their opponents attempted for the season, but the Illini converted 21 while the Wolfpack tried only 13.
After a ragged first half that found North Carolina State leading 33-32 at the break despite committing 13 turnovers, both teams came out scorching the nets in the second half. The Wolfpack canned their first five field goals, but the Illini hit their first six shots to claim a 46-45 edge with 16 minutes to play.
While North Carolina State cooled off slightly, Illinois kept finding open mid-range jumpers and seized a 67-57 lead -- the largest for either team at that juncture -- on Hill’s 12-footer in the lane with 8:36 to go.
North Carolina State’s chances to rally were ruined symbolically with 2:56 left when Hill was fouled 35 feet from the hoop while trying to throw the ball at the basket to avoid a shot-clock violation. Hill sank all 3 free throws to give Illinois an 82-67 lead.