CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) - Illinois used a wave of 3-pointers and strong shooting in its last two wins to move into the top 10. However, on a night the 10th-ranked Illini were struggling, a late layup from a banged-up D.J. Richardson (6'3''-G-91) and hard-nosed defense kept their unbeaten start going.
Brandon Paul (6'4''-G-91) scored 14 points and Richardson overcame a shoulder injury to add 11 and help Illinois hold off Norfolk State 64-54 on Tuesday night.
"I don't think over the course of the 40 minutes our energy, our focus, our effort level was where it's been," Illinois coach John Groce said.
The Illini were shooting 46 percent from the field and averaging 11 3-pointers a game coming in but were just 35 percent (21 for 60) overall and 6 for 23 (26 percent) on 3s against the Spartans. Illinois also went 16 for 27 (59 percent) from the free-throw line.
"What we tried to do was run them off of the 3-point line and try to make them beat us with 2s rather than 3s," Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans said.
Rashid Gaston (6'8''-F) scored 12 points and Pendarvis Williams added 11 for Norfolk State (6-6), which led for much of the first half.
Gaston had a chance to tie the score at 49 with just under eight minutes to play. The forward launched a turnaround jumper in the lane that found nothing but Sam McLaurin's outstretched hand and Illinois clung to its two-point lead.
A minute later Richardson fired in a 3 from the top of the key that put Illinois up 52-47. He finally secured the win with a layup that put the Illini up 56-51 with just under two minutes to play.
"We came in and gave a great effort for about 35 minutes and they took over about the last five minutes," Evans said.
Richardson left the game late in the first half after a collision that sent him to the floor. He skipped second-half warm-ups after what the Illinois sports information director said was a badly bruised shoulder but came back early in the half. He played 13 minutes in the second half and scored seven key points.
The Illini opened a 39-29 lead in the second half's opening minutes. Five of those points came on a 3-pointer and a short jumper from Tracy Abrams.
"They really turned it up, which is great," Groce said. "Or you could say they should be playing that hard all the time."
Abrams collided with Malcolm Hawkins in the final three minutes and, like Richardson earlier, limped off the court. He returned about a minute later but had what Groce said was a bruised shin.
The Spartans led much of the first half after opening a 5-0 lead on two baskets by Williams.
"Not to take anything away from Norfolk State but we played down to our competition today," Paul said.
Groce said the Illini will have to make their shots and play harder for the undefeated streak to continue. Illinois will face another unbeaten, Eastern Kentucky, at home Sunday.
"We'll get an opportunity on Sunday," Groce said. "We'll have to play better than we did tonight, for sure." Courtesy of: http://www.fightingillini.com
No. 25 Iowa State pounds Omaha 91-47 - 2 hours ago
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Iowa State moved the ball and yet again played strong defense. The result was a surprisingly satisfying win on the heels of two tough losses. Deonte Burton (6'4''-G/F-94) scored 20 points and the 25th-ranked Cyclones pummeled Nebraska-Omaha 91-47 on Monday night, snapping a two-game losing streak. Donovan Jackson (6'2''-G-96) had 15 for the Cyclones (6-2), who hit 15 of 29 3-pointers and rolled to their third win of 40 or more points this season. "I thought we did some things better," Iow... [read more]
Iowa State moved the ball and yet again played strong defense. The result was a surprisingly satisfying win on the heels of two tough losses. Deonte Burton (6'4''-G/F-94) scored 20 points and the 25th-ranked Cyclones pummeled Nebraska-Omaha 91-47 on Monday night, snapping a two-game losing streak. Donovan Jackson (6'2''-G-96) had 15 for the Cyclones (6-2), who hit 15 of 29 3-pointers and rolled to their third win of 40 or more points this season. "I thought we did some things better," Iowa State coach Steve Prohm said. "Pace of play. Sharing the basketball, moving the basketball, the ball moving side to side. And defensively, for the majority of the game, I thought we competed." Iowa State knew it had to take the Mavericks (4-5) seriously after they stunned Iowa on Saturday. The Cyclones never let Omaha think it had a chance, storming ahead 36-9 after just 12 minutes - with Burton scoring their first 13 points. "I just took what they were giving me, and it was falling," Burton said. Iowa State, which fell six spots in Monday's AP Top 25 poll but remained ranked for the 61st week in a row, held the Mavs to 28 percent shooting. The Cyclones, not typically known for their defense, have held three of their last four opponents to 56 points or less. "We play in a really good league," Prohm said, looking ahead to Big 12 play. "You better guard, and you better play the right way." Tra-Deon Hollins (6'2''-G) had 13 points to lead the Mavs. Courtesy of: kansascity.com
South Carolina cruises past Florida International 70-54 - 1 day ago
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No. 20 South Carolina (8-0) picked up its eighth-straight win of the season after defeating FIU (3-6) 70-54 at Colonial Life Arena on Sunday afternoon. Senior guard Duane Notice (6'2''-G-94) tied a career-high with 27 points. He was on fire from deep, knocking down six 3s, which set a new-career high. Joining Notice in double-figures was sophomore PJ Dozier (6'6''-F/G) (20), who logged his second-straight 20-point game. Carolina got off to another solid start as Dozier faked a pass to the... [read more]
No. 20 South Carolina (8-0) picked up its eighth-straight win of the season after defeating FIU (3-6) 70-54 at Colonial Life Arena on Sunday afternoon. Senior guard Duane Notice (6'2''-G-94) tied a career-high with 27 points. He was on fire from deep, knocking down six 3s, which set a new-career high. Joining Notice in double-figures was sophomore PJ Dozier (6'6''-F/G) (20), who logged his second-straight 20-point game. Carolina got off to another solid start as Dozier faked a pass to the corner and pulled up from the left wing knocking down a 3 with 17:11 remaining in the first half. The made long-ball forced a Panther time out just three minutes in as the Gamecocks opened play on a 7-0 run. The lead was pushed to 11-5 at the first media timeout. Dozier, who came into the game fresh off a career-high 21 points in the team's win over Vermont on Thursday, remained hot from the field scoring seven of Carolina's first 11 points. Freshman Rakym Felder (5'10''-PG) pinpointed a long pass down the floor to Notice who laid it in to make it 15-7. FIU cut the score to 19-14 after an Anthony Boswell (6'6''-G-94) 3 from the corner. The Gamecocks then went on another 7-0 run as Notice knocked down a trey ball from the right wing to move the lead to double-digits at 26-14 with 5:07 left in the first half. Another Notice 3 with 3:54 left pushed him into double-figures on the score sheet. Freshman Maik Kotsar snagged an offensive rebound on Carolina's final offensive possession of the half and found a wide-open Notice, who was spotting up behind the arc. Notice knocked down his third 3 of the half and put the Gamecocks up 36-22 at the break. The Toronto, Ontario, native, led all scorers with 14 at halftime. Dozier joined him in double-figures with 11 (4-for-4). Carolina's stingy defense forced a season-high 14 turnovers in the first half. FIU big man Michael Kessens (6'9''-F-91, agency: Court Side) scored via layup to cut the Gamecocks' lead to 13 with 11:14 left, but Carolina answered with a 7-0 run to push the lead to 20 with 6:37 remaining. The Gamecocks would lead by 16 or more the rest of the way. Notice broke 20 on the score sheet after hitting his fifth 3 of the game with 4:54 left to put the Gamecocks up 61-40. Dozier tallied his 20th point with a free throw on the ensuing possession. Notice's career-high sixth 3 came with 3:21 left. He finished 8-of-13 from the field and 6-of-10 from behind the arc. Dozier went 7-for-13 from the field, including 2-for-4 from deep. The Columbia, S.C., native, had seven rebounds which tied sophomore Chris Silva for the team lead. Felder led the team with four assists. Courtesy of: secsports.com
College Park, MD - Maryland stormed back late in the second half to steal a win away from Oklahoma State 71-70. Melo Trimble(6'3''-G-95) made two free throws with under ten seconds to play to seal another late nail bitter win for the Terps. Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State made an off balanced floater, but it was after the buzzer had sounded. This game had the feel and energy of a tournament game in March. Leading the way for Oklahoma State was star sophomore point guard Evans (6-1). Evans... [read more]
College Park, MD - Maryland stormed back late in the second half to steal a win away from Oklahoma State 71-70. Melo Trimble (6'3''-G-95) made two free throws with under ten seconds to play to seal another late nail bitter win for the Terps. Jawun Evans of Oklahoma State made an off balanced floater, but it was after the buzzer had sounded. This game had the feel and energy of a tournament game in March.
Leading the way for Oklahoma State was star sophomore point guard Evans (6-1). Evans was a huge force in the first half penetrating the lane at will and putting himself and his teammates in positions to score. He also showed his quickness and pesky play on defense forcing Terps point guard Anthony Cowan into several turnovers. Jawun displayed why NBA scouts in attendance may be keeping a close watch on him despite his lack of size. Evans' wingspan is over 6-4 and is quite noticeable. He fizzled somewhat in the second half however, only scoring six points. Cowan did a solid job guarding him and Damonte Dodd stepped up his pick and roll defense. Evans finished with 16 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals.
Also making a huge impact for the Cowboys was junior 6-6 small forward Jeffrey Carroll. Carroll had a massive impact on the boards. He seemed to have an instinct that only the great rebounders have. He was constantly around the ball keeping it alive or just corralling the board himself. On offense Carroll showed an ability to hit the corner three in catch and shoot situations, as well as put the ball on the floor once the defense over commits. Carroll still has some work to do with his ball handling and playmaking abilities, but he has a solid skill set to start from. Carroll finished with 15 points, 3-of-6 from three and a game high 12 rebounds.
5-11 Phil Forte III struggled shooting the ball all night. He went 3-of-16 from the field, including just 2-of-10 from three. Forte did play some solid defense on Melo and others to contribute in a different way. Forte finished with 14 points, three rebounds and three assists.
For Maryland, the 6-3 Trimble led the way. Trimble impacted the game with his veteran leadership and his defense that has vastly improved over the last two seasons. His shooting woes continued from three going 0-for-5 on the night. Melo's shot looks good and has consistent form it just still isn't falling for him. When Melo struggles from three he just drives the lane and does what he does best. He may be the best penetrator in the country. Trimble finished with 13 points, six assists and four rebounds.
The Terps received unexpected contributions from a some role players on the night. The most impactful in the second half was junior 5-11 guard Jaylen Brantley. Brantley provided a much needed spark when Maryland was down 60-48 late in the second half. He was in the game while Melo was taking a rest as the Terps erased a twelve point deficit and took a 61-60 lead. Brantley made several key jumpers and even attacked the rim where he drew contact on several occasions. He finished with twelve points and two rebounds.
The other impactful player for the Terps was senior 6-11 center Damonte Dodd or also known as Doddzilla. Dodd was a force in the paint on both ends of the floor. On offense he crashed the glass hard, getting five offensive rebounds. Dodd mainly scored off of very close range lay ins or put backs. His offensive game is still very limited and raw. On defense Dodd was a nuisance to anyone who dared to come in the paint. He altered many shots and finished with three blocks. If Dodd can consistently provide this effort and impact for the Terps that will vastly help balance their perimeter heavy attack. Dodd finished with twelve points, eight rebounds and three rebounds.
This game provided positive signs for fans of both teams. For Oklahoma State it showed that they can compete in a tough road environment. They just need more work on how to put away an opponent on the road, which is easier said than done. For Maryland it showed that they will never give up no matter how dim the situation may seem. The question for Maryland is how long can they live on the edge like this?
Up next for Maryland is a home game vs. Howard on Wednesday. Oklahoma State has an away game vs. Tulsa on Saturday.
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