#25 Illini Overcome Cold Shooting From Arc, Line To Whip EIU In Season Opener

By IlliniGuys Staff

November 6, 2023

(Cover photo courtesy Illinois Athletics)

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn made his collegiate debut with 18 points off the bench as 25th ranked Illinois overcame a slow start to rout Eastern Illinois 80-52 in the season opener for both teams Monday night.

Illinois (1-0) came out of the locker room with some cold-shooting, going 0-for-5 from three-point range and missing both free throws attempts in the first seven minutes as the visiting Panthers jumped out to a 15-6 lead.

The Illini began to climb back into the game, sparked by Gibbs-Lawhorn.  The 6'1" freshman from Lafayette, Indiana went on a personal 6-0 run with a trio of fastbreak shots; a follow-up, a lay-up, and a dunk to spark Illinois to a 21-19 lead, their first since the opening minutes.

Illinois went on to outscore EIU 31-10 to take a 37-25 lead into halftime.

Terrence Shannon Jr. then took control.  After hitting a three-pointer in the final seconds of the first half, the preseason All-American scored on a layup and another trey to open the floodgates as the Illini put up a 21-6 advantage in the opening minutes of the second half.  Shannon finished with 16 points.

Freshman Amani Hansberry grabbed a team-high eight rebounds in just seven minutes of action.

Illini coach Brad Underwood had hoped to have better shot selection after the team took 43% of its shots from outside the arc last season.  They attempted 32 of their 58 field goals (or 55%) from three-point range in this one, making only 10 of them.

Illinois will host Oakland Friday night. The Golden Grizzlies nearly pulled off the upset of Ohio State, losing to the Buckeyes 79-73.

Stay with IlliniGuys.com for complete postgame coverage.

 

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