Illinois began its biennial overseas trip with a blowout win over the Italian squad CUS Insubria, winning 118-56. The Illini enter the 2019-20 season coming off of a 2018-19 season with mixed reviews. However, while the level of competition may leave something to be desired in this first exhibition, the start is definitely something that head coach Brad Underwood can look to build on.
Ayo Dosunmu returns to Champaign this year after contemplating a jump to the NBA. Underwood will rely heavily on Dosunmu to execute his offense and handle the pressure of being the focus of opponents’ defenses. The Chicago-native, Dosunmu, showed that ability in the first exhibition of the year by executing the pick-and-roll effectively, finishing with 27 pts and 5 assists on 11-15 shooting (4-6 from three).
He showed a rapport with sophomore Giorgi Bezhanishvili as the big man came in as the second-leading scorer with 18 pts, many of which came on rolls to the basket. Bezhanishvili ended the day at 9-10 on shots in the paint despite coming off the bench for Underwood’s squad.
Kipper Nichols looks to finish off his Illini career with a bang, earning the start for Underwood. He finished with 17 pts on 7-9 shooting. Illinois also got solid contributions from Trent Frazier (17 pts) and Alan Griffin (14 pts, 11 reb). You can check out the full box score below.