Illinois Defeats Lewis 83-58
Nov. 1, 2006
Champaign, Ill. (AP) - Without two returning starters, Illinois coach Bruce Weber pieced together a lineup for his team's 83-58 exhibition win Wednesday night over Lewis.
The Illini held the Flyers to 36 percent shooting, but had to do it without senior guard Rich McBride, who is suspended through the first four games of the regular season, and junior forward Brian Randle who is out with a strained muscle in the groin area.
Illinois returned to the three-guard lineup that served it well during a 2004-05 run to the NCAA championship game, but McBride's absence meant the Illini replaced three NBA draft picks with a trio of sophomores.
"I told them we have to do the simple things first and master those before we could advance," Weber said. "We'll watch the film, I'm sure it won't be quite as good as we thought. But at least we made some progress."
Chester Frazier, who averaged 13.4 minutes and less than two points per game last season, ran the point, scoring 10 and grabbing a team-high seven rebounds.
"Coach got on me about slowing down, but I think I responded well," Frazier said. "We could have gotten better shots. A couple times early in the offense I took a bad shot."
Without Randle or four-year starter James Augustine, who graduated in the spring, Illinois looked to outside shooting instead of the dunks and drives that characterized the 2005-06 season. But the Illini hit just 14.3 percent from three-point range, including 1-of-9 first-half three-point attempts.
Illinois forward Warren Carter opened scoring with a short jumper off one of Frazier's six assists. Carter had a team-high 13 points for the Illini, but played only 18 minutes.
"Tonight he did it for 18 minutes, can he do it for another 7, 8 minutes, be productive and not have slippage?" Weber said. "If he can, I think he's the key to our team."
Lewis answered with a steal and a three-pointer, then followed up with a jump shot by forward Stephan Bolt, who led the team with 11 points and nine rebounds. But Illinois easily pulled ahead, holding Lewis to three points on three free throws in more than 12 minutes of the first half. The Flyers made just five shots before halftime, shooting 20 percent from the floor.
"I give Illinois credit, we came out and couldn't make shots, didn't execute, their pressure took us out of our offense. It was a struggle," Lewis coach Scott Trost said.
Illinois split first half scoring between Frazier and forward Shaun Pruitt, who had 10 points and three rebounds going into halftime. Illinois outscored Lewis just 39-38 in the second half.
Weber said his team will continue to emphasize fast-breaks andrebounding as it prepares for the regular season.
"I thought at times we looked pretty good defensively," Weber said. "We wore them down as the game went on."