Illinois closes first half with 20-7 run, breezes by Presbyterian

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Freshman D.J. Richardson wasn't about to let a hyper-extended shooting elbow slow him down.

Richardson scored 15 points, hitting four 3-pointers, to help Illinois (No. 25 ESPN/USA Today, No. 23 AP) overcome a sluggish start and beat Presbyterian College 94-48 in the Las Vegas Invitational on Saturday night.

"He was knocking down shots all night," forward Mike Davis said of Richardson. "D.J. did a good job of penetrating and kicking, and we did a good job of knocking down our shots. We were pretty hot from the field."

The Illini's offense stalled early on against the Blue Hose's zone defense. With the game tied at 21, Illinois (3-0) closed the half with a 20-7 run to take a 13-point halftime lead.

After turning the ball over eight times in the first half, the Illini surrendered the ball only once during the second half.

The second half featured a strong start for the Illini as they picked up where they left off opening with a 25-2 run to put the game out of reach. Alex Legion hit a pair of 3-pointers sandwiched around a Bill Cole three on three straight possessions which extended Illinois' lead to 65-30.

"We came out strong in the second half, knocked down some shots, played solid defense," said Davis. "That's what we pride ourselves on."

The Blue Hose managed to shut down 7-foot-1 center Mike Tisdale for a majority of the game as he was held without a basket until 18:07 left in the second half. Tisdale finished with five points and four rebounds.

"We settled down, played good, solid defense and probably wore them down more than anything. I thought our transition and zone attack got better," said Weber. "It was a good win for us. Now the competition obviously gets a lot tougher."

While rebounding had been an area of concern for Illinois coach Bruce Weber in previous games, Illinois outrebounded Presbyterian 48-19 -- including 20 offensive boards. Davis led the way with nine rebounds. He finished with 12 points.

The game marked the first meeting between the two teams. All 13 Illini scored at least two points.

Jake Troyli led Presbyterian (0-3) with 15 points as Illinois held the Blue Hose to 37 percent shooting and a paltry 16.7 percent from beyond the arc.