CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) — Terrence Shannon Jr. had a career-high 30 points and eight rebounds to lead No. 19 Illinois to a 103-65 win over Monmouth on Monday night.
Freshman guard Jayden Epps scored a season-high 21 points and Dain Dainja finished with 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting for the Illini (3-0).
Andrew Ball scored 13 points to lead Monmouth (0-3), and Jack Collins added 12.
Illinois made its first five shots — four of them 3s — and hit nine of its first 12 shots to sprint out to a 24-9 lead. It was a sharp contrast from a 1-for-18 start from the field in a win over Kansas City last Friday.
Illinois led 8-0 just 44 seconds in thanks to a 3 by Shannon, a steal and layup from RJ Melendez and a 3 from Skyy Clark. Clark pushed the Illini lead to double digits with a decisive crossover in transition and a layup, part of a 31-5 run that included four buckets from Shannon and four from Dainja.
Illinois led 63-33 at halftime after shooting 76.7% in the first half.
The Illini sharpshooters cooled off a bit in the second half, finishing the game at 59.7%. It hardly mattered in part due to converting 24 Hawks turnovers into 30 points.
Monmouth: King Rice’s group is working through some inevitable bumps after graduating eight seniors from last year’s 21-13 team. Back-to-back road games against ranked opponents should serve as good preparation for Monmouth’s first season in the CAA after jumping from the MAAC.
Illinois: Limiting turnovers will be a key for this group in challenging games in Las Vegas against No. 8 UCLA and either No. 5 Baylor or No. 16 Virginia. The Hawks looked helpless before crawling into the game by scoring seven points off four turnovers.
Monmouth: The Hawks take on Norfolk State in their home opener on Thursday.
Illinois: Heads to Las Vegas to take on No. 8 UCLA Friday in the first of two games in the Continental Tire Main Event.
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