Illini Men Survive Tennessee-Martin 77-74
The Illini men’s basketball team improved to 2-0 Sunday night, but not without a scare from Tennessee-Martin in a 77-74 win.
The Illini saw their lead shrink from 16 points with less than four minutes left, down to just three points in the closing seconds.
Junior forward Michael Finke says turnovers hurt the Illini down the stretch.
“I think we just played scared. Their press really got to us, we turned the ball over a little too much," Finke said. "That’s on us players. We’ve got to be better with the ball and take care of it.”
Overall, the Illini committed 18 turnovers to the Skyhawks 19. Sophomore guard Te'Jon Lucas had five of those, and freshman guard Mark Smith committed four.
Head Coach Brad Underwood says his players made some mental mistakes that helped allow the Skyhawks to make a late comeback.
“We missed some assignments. We’ve got to grow from that," Underwood said. "I’m used to players having a scouting report memorized, and knowing every call, and every matchup that they could possibly have. Tonight we got exploited, and then to their credit, they made shots, and they kept fighting.”
Leron Black led Illinois in points and rebounds, with 23 and eight, respectively. Finke added 12 points and five rebounds.
Delfincko Bogan also tallied 23 to lead UT-Martin. Matthew Butler added 16, and Dominique Williams 15 for the Skyhawks.
After playing two games in three days, Illinois now has a few days to prepare for DePaul on Friday night in Champaign. It will be the first meeting between the two programs since 1957.