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Illinois stumbles but survives with big win

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois used a wave of 3-pointers and strong shooting in its previous two wins to move into the Top 10. But on a night when the Illini were struggling, a late layup from banged-up D.J. Richardson and hard-nosed defense kept their unbeaten start going.

Three days after an impressive road win over Gonzaga, Brandon Paul scored 14 and Richardson overcame a shoulder injury to add 11 and help No. 10 Illinois hold off Norfolk State 64-54 on Tuesday night.

"I don't think over the course of the 40 minutes our energy, our focus, our effort level was where it's been," Illinois coach John Groce said.

The Illini (11-0) were shooting 46 percent from the field and averaging 11 3-pointers a game going in but shot just 35 percent overall (21-of-60) and made 6 of 23 3's (26 percent).

"What we tried to do was run them off of the 3-point line and try to make them beat us with 2's rather than 3's," Norfolk State coach Anthony Evans said.

Rashid Gaston scored 12 for Norfolk State, which led for much of the first half. Gaston had a chance to tie the score at 49 with just less than 8 minutes left. The forward launched a turnaround jumper in the lane that found nothing but Sam McLaurin's outstretched hand.

A minute later Richardson fired in a 3 from the top of the key that put Illinois up 52-47. He secured the win with a layup that put the Illini up 56-51 with just less than 2 minutes to play.

Richardson left the game late in the first half after a collision sent him to the floor. He skipped second-half warmups with what the Illinois sports information director said was a bruised shoulder but came back early in the half.

NO. 3 MICHIGAN 67, BINGHAMTON 39: Trey Burke scored 19 to lead the host Wolverines (10-0), who blew it open with an early 19-2 run and are off to their best start since their national title season of 1988-89.

NO. 13 MINNESOTA 70, N. DAKOTA ST. 57: Rodney Williams scored a season-high 19, including a 360-degree dunk off a fast break, and Trevor Mbakwe grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds for the host Gophers (11-1).

SAINT LEO 72, NOVA SE 55: Marcus Ruh had a career-high 27 points for the host Lions (5-2), who never trailed in their Sunshine State Conference opener.


NO. 10 MARYLAND 88, TOWSON 43: Alyssa Thomas had 23 points and 13 rebounds for the visiting Terrapins (7-2), who have won three straight by an average of nearly 40 points.

NO. 18 TEXAS 77, LA.-MONROE 49: Brady Sanders scored 15 for the host Longhorns (6-1), who bounced back from Saturday's 62-42 loss to UCLA.

Illinois stumbles but survives with big win 12/11/12 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 12:17am]
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