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    Illinois Tops Belmont 77-51
    Warren Carter is fouled by Belmont's Keaton Belcher.

    Warren Carter is fouled by Belmont's Keaton Belcher.

    Dec. 17, 2006

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    CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) -Warren Carter had 21 points as Illinois rode a strong second half performance to a 77-51 victory against Belmont on Sunday.

    The Illini (10-2) opened well, but they struggled to maintain their momentum throughout the first half. A key push to start the second half, however, gave the team a secure lead.

    Shane Dansby came off the bench to lead Belmont (7-3, 2-0 Atlantic Sun Conference) with 13 points and center Boomer Herndon pulled down a team-high six rebounds.

    Illinois jumped to a 9-point lead in less than five minutes, building a 15-6 advantage with 15:38 left on the clock.

    Three Belmont 3-pointers compared to one Illinois jumper cut Illinois' lead to 17-15 with 12:10 in the half, but Illinois used a 7-0 run to make the score 24-15 less than three minutes later. Belmont stayed close, clawing within one bucket three more times before the break.

    The Bruins have outscored 44 of their last 63 opponents in the second half, but at halftime Illini coach Bruce Weber stressed improved defense and limiting turnovers.

    In the second half, Illinois went on a 13-4 run to make it 49-34 Illinois with 15:38 to play. Calvin Brock made a long jump shot for Illinois, then Belmont's Boomer Herndon made a jumper before Jamar Smith and Brian Randle added a pair of 3-pointers for the Illini to make it 57-36 with 10:30 to play.

    Belmont never closed within 18 points through the rest of the game.

    Randle finished with 10 points and four rebounds in 16 minutes of action. The junior forward was playing in just his third game of the season after undergoing groin surgery following the opener against Austin Peay.

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