Illinois surges past St. Francis 89-64 - FOX 35 News Orlando

Illinois surges past St. Francis 89-64

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -- Tyler Griffey scored 17 points and Tracy Abrams had 15, leading Illinois to an 89-64 win over St. Francis (N.Y.) Monday night.
 
   Brandon Paul added 14 points and six assists for the Illini (2-0).
 
   Akeem Johnson led St. Francis (1-1) with 13 points, Ben Mockford added 12 and Jalen Cannon had 11 rebounds.
 
   Illinois couldn't shake the Terriers early. St. Francis took an 11-10 lead just under four minutes into the game on a layup by Mockford and stayed close through the first half.
 
   Kevin Douglas' layup made the score 30-25 with 7:11 left in the first half, but Illinois went on a 15-0 run from there to take a 45-25 lead into halftime. The Terriers missed eight straight shots and turned the ball over twice during that stretch.
 
   One possession during the run showed a degree of tenacity that first-year coach John Groce -- a disciple for intense, high-energy basketball -- had to love.
 
   Up 40-25, Illinois got the ball when center Nnanna Egwu blocked a Dre Calloway shot. On the other end, the Illini couldn't find the bucket but pulled down three straight rebounds to give themselves second, third and fourth chances before Griffey finally scored on a layup to go up 42-25.
 
   With just under eight minutes left in the game, Myke Henry heaved a crosscourt pass that landed in Joseph Bertrand's hands on the Illini bench. The play amounted to nothing --Illinois led 72-44 at the time and had the game in hand. But it stood out for what it was -- just the eighth and final turnover for Illinois, which had only four in each half.
 
   Groce preaches up-tempo basketball and says his teams will cough the ball up, but worried in the offseason that he lacks the ball handlers to play at the pace he likes without giving it up too much. Illinois had a tolerable 12 turnovers in last week's season-opening 75-55 win over Colgate.
 
   The Illini shot 11 of 25 from 3-point range and 32 for 65 overall from the field.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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