After Ahmad Starks started the scoring by hitting a jumpshot for the Fighting Illini, Angel Rodriguez found Sheldon McClellan for an open three. The 'Canes had Illinois under control early, thanks to some great team defense and some misses on wide-open 3's by their opponent.
But the big story might have been the 1st half coming-out party by Deandre Burnett who demonstrated how quickly he could put points on the board, scoring from downtown and hacking his way through the lane. Burnett scored 12 points on 9 shots, adding in 3 rebounds.
Tonye Jekiri continued to play stellar defense. He challenged a ton of shots and if Miami's other players had crashed the defensive boards Illinois would have been even further behind. Jekiri picked up his second questionable foul and was sent to the bench with 5:30 left in the half, Illinois had some more success inside and cut the 'Canes lead from double-digits to 29-22 with 3:04 on the clock.
Even without their big man, the 'Canes overcame some terrible officiating to extend their lead to 37-24 as the teams headed into the locker room. The raucous crowd @ the BUC headed off to the concession stands in good spirits.
Illinois came out with a lot of fight to start off the 2nd frame, cutting Miami's lead to 37-31 in just the first 2:30 leading to a Coach Jim Larranaga time-out. After the lead was cut to three the 'Canes went on a run.
Manu Lecomte should be renamed Manu Lecantmiss as he continues to efficiently snap the net. Lecomte and Burnett converted on drives to the hoop and the 'Canes were back up 43-36 with 14:00 left in the contest. Burnett followed with another PERFECT 3 which put the 'Canes back up by 10.
Illinois came back with a run of their own and cut the Miami lead to 48-46 before Omar Sherman hit a three and then Sherman found a cutting, and subsequently dunking McClellan with a deft pass to push Miami's lead to 53-46 with just under 9 minutes to play. Then Rodriguez found Jekiri under the hoop for a 2-handed jam that brought the crowd to their feet. Burnett slashed to the hoop again and Rodriguez followed with a three to put the 'Canes up by 12.
Illinois kept their heels dug in and closed the gap to 63-57 with just 3:22 to play. Jekiri grabbed an offensive rebound and put it back to extend Miami's lead back to 8 with 2:34 left.
Parting Shots: This was another great win for 'Canes basketball. In addition to coming away with the 'W', Miami got a boost by the play of Burnett (19pts, 8reb) who had been nursing a minor injury. Most of us figured that we'd have seen a lot of Burnett last year, but an injury sustained in practice kept the high-scoring recruit red-shirted as last year's 'Canes struggled to score points.
Kudos to the student section for making a lot of noise.
|Illinois Fighting Illini|
|Nnanna Egwu, C||4-11||0-3||0-0||3||6||9||0||0||1||2||4||8|
|Ahmad Starks, G||1-10||1-7||0-0||0||1||1||1||0||0||1||2||3|
|Rayvonte Rice, G||8-16||2-6||2-3||5||7||12||1||0||0||0||2||20|
|Aaron Cosby, G||1-10||1-6||0-0||2||1||3||1||0||0||0||4||3|
|Malcolm Hill, G||5-10||1-3||2-5||2||4||6||3||0||0||3||2||13|
|Austin Colbert, F||0-3||0-0||0-0||1||1||2||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Leron Black, F||1-3||0-0||0-0||1||1||2||0||0||0||0||4||2|
|Kendrick Nunn, G||3-6||2-5||0-0||0||4||4||0||1||0||0||0||8|
|Jaylon Tate, G||0-0||0-0||2-2||0||0||0||1||0||0||1||2||2|
|Miami (FL) Hurricanes|
|Tonye Jekiri, C||3-6||0-0||0-0||3||6||9||2||0||2||1||4||6|
|Joe Thomas, F||0-1||0-0||2-2||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||2|
|Angel Rodriguez, G||2-9||1-5||4-6||0||6||6||5||3||0||3||2||9|
|Sheldon McClellan, G||5-10||2-4||2-2||1||8||9||2||0||0||0||2||14|
|Manu Lecomte, G||4-8||2-5||5-7||2||1||3||1||0||0||0||3||15|
|Omar Sherman, F||1-6||1-5||2-2||0||1||1||1||0||1||0||3||5|
|Deandre Burnett, G||7-16||3-10||2-2||1||7||8||0||1||0||0||0||19|
|Ja'Quan Newton, G||0-0||0-0||0-0||0||2||2||1||0||0||0||2||0|
|James Palmer, G||0-2||0-1||0-0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Technical Fouls: PLAYERS: None - TEAMS: None