Brandon Paul unloaded six three-pointers, five in the first half, as Illinois jumped out to a 42-18 halftime lead and cruised to a season-opening victory over UC-Irvine in the first game of the 2K Sports Coaches vs. Cancer Classic. Paul also added two rebounds, two steals and a block to his scoreline for a complete performance.
The Illini (1-0) came into this game with many questions after two awful performances in their two exhibition victories last week. They quickly put those questions to rest by jumping out to leads of 8-2, 19-5 and 34-8 in the first half. The defense was stifling, holding the Anteaters (0-1) to 22.2% shooting and forcing 12 turnovers in the first half.
Demetri McCamey had 13 points and 8 assists, but also contributed five turnovers. Mike Davis and Mike Tisdale led Illinois with eight rebounds. Davis has 12 points, while Tisdale chipped in 11.
Darren Moore dropped in 18 points, while junior Eric Wise had 11 points and 12 rebounds for UC-Irvine, who will host regional action next week in the 2K Sports Classic. Illinois will host Toledo on Wednesday night, then travel to New York City to face No. 24 Texas in the semifinal round.
In other 2K Sports Classic action Monday night, No. 4 Pittsburgh struggled to beat Rhode Island 83-75, Maryland pounded Seattle 105-76, and the Longhorns defeated Navy 83-52.