The Illini opened up an early lead and didn't look back in their second outing of the season.
Illinois stormed out of the gates to a 12-1 lead and maintained a double digit lead throughout the first half. Jacksonville State bounced back to cut the lead down to 8 after the first four minutes of the second half, but the Illini answered quickly and went on to outscore the Gamecocks 40-21 over the next 13 minutes.
While the game was also relatively foul heavy in the beginning, it paled in comparison to the Iowa game, with Illinois only shooting 28 free throws (compared to 49 for Iowa). That's probably not a bad thing as Illinois only hit on 64.3% of their free throws. The Illini also struggled from outside but shot an effective 52.5% from the field.
The team was led by wing Joseph Bertrand who added 20 points and 10 rebounds. Nnanna Egwu also had a solid day with 10 points and 7 rebounds against the smaller Gamecocks. The most noticeable development of the game, though, was the point guard play. Starting point guard Tracy Abrams scored 13 points and only had one turnover, but also only had one assist on the day. Coming off the bench was freshman Jaylon Tate, adding 10 points and an impressive 8 assists. Abrams has had issues dishing the ball effectively in the past and had a terrible turnover/assist ratio last season. If Tate can dish it out and keep his turnovers down he could possibly challenge Abrams for playing time.
On the other side, Jacksonville State struggled from the field shooting 32.9%, 20% from three and 52.2% from the charity stripe. The Gamecocks were led by guard Brian Williams' 12 points while forward DJ Felder led the team in rebounds with 10. Probably the most distressing sign from the game for Illinois was the fact that Jacksonville State out rebounded the Illini 44-37.
Illinois is now sitting at 2-0 and it looks like Jaylon Tate might be positioning himself to be the first freshman to contend for serious minutes. The freshman looked great this evening and if he can keep it up as the season goes on Groce will likely have to work him into the lineup.
The Illini will now have a few days off before hosting Valpo on Wednesday.