Brian Randle, right, takes a shot over Arizona State's Jeff Pendergraph in the first half. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)
Nov. 20, 2007
LAHAINA, Hawaii (AP) - Rodney Alexander scored 12 of his 17 points in Illinois' game-opening 20-0 run and the Fighting Illini went on to a 77-54 victory over Arizona State on Monday night in the opening round of the EA Sports Maui Invitational.
Alexander had two 3-pointers and two three-point plays in the early burst.
Illinois (3-0) will play No. 13 Duke, which beat Princeton 83-61, in the semifinals on Tuesday.
Brian Randle had 17 points for Illinois, which shot 57.4 percent for the game (27-for-47), including 10-for-17 from 3-point range.
Christian Polk had 13 points for Arizona State (0-1), which started three freshmen in a season opener for the first time in school history.
The game-opening run was easily explained by shooting: the Illini made theirs and the Sun Devils didn't.
Illinois started the game making seven of its first eight shots including three 3-pointers in four attempts. The miss was the first shot of the game by Chester Frazier.
Arizona State, meanwhile, missed its first nine shots and the first field goal came on an offensive rebound. Antwi Atuahene put back a missed 3-point attempt by James Harden to make it 20-2 with 14:08 left in the first half.
The biggest lead of the half was 29-7 on a tip-in by Randle with 9:57 left. Arizona State got as close as 12 points in the half - 36-24 on a 3 by Jerren Shipp with 1:34 left - and the Sun Devils trailed 38-24 at halftime.
Illinois' biggest lead was 76-50 on a 3-pointer by Demetri McCamey with 2:42 to play.
The three freshmen struggled for the Sun Devils, combining to go 4-for-19 from the field. Ty Abbott led the trio with nine points, while James Harden had six and Jamelle McMillan finished with two.
The person who drew the most attention in the Lahaina Civic Center during the game was NBA great Michael Jordan who was there to watch his son play for Illinois. Jeff Jordan, a freshman guard, had one point and an assist in 11 minutes.
This is Illinois' third appearance in the tournament. The Fighting Illini finished third in 1987 and second in 2000.