The Illinois Fighting Illini had an early trend of slow starts, but shook off that trend against a tough opponent before fall break. After facing early deficits of at least eight in each of its three games against low or mid-major opponents, Illinois led nearly wire-to-wire in an 88-60 win over Southern on Sunday. Terrence Shannon Jr. had a game-high 24 points while Dain Dainja added 12 points and Quincy Guerrier had 10 points and six rebounds. Freshman big Amani Hansberry had eight points, seven rebounds and three assists off the bench.
Dainja was instrumental in the Illini’s early success, scoring 10 points in the first 6:40, including the Illini’s first four made field goals. He was in double-figures for the second straight game starting in place of the injured Coleman Hawkins. Niccolo Moretti also gave the Illini an offensive spark off the bench for the second straight game. He had four points, three assists and three rebounds in the first half, including one for an Amani Hansberry layup that gave the Illini a 23-17 lead with 9:21 left in the first half. Moretti left the game late in the first half with an ankle injury and did not return. Dra Gibbs-Lawhorn also left in