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Malcolm Hill’s Career-High 40 Pts. Buries Northern Kentucky

Malcom Hill fires a three-pointer for the Illini.

Illini player Malcom Hill (21) fires a three-pointer as Jalen Coleman-Lands (5) watches from the corner, during Illinois' 79-64 victory over Northern Kentucky Sunday night. Rob McColley / Illinois Public Media

Two Illini tallied double-doubles, in a come-from-behind 79-64 win for the Illinois men’s basketball team over Northern Kentucky Sunday night in Champaign.

Malcolm Hill scored a career-high 40 points and grabbed a dozen rebounds. Michael Finke added 10 points and 11 boards. 

Assists and turnovers were both kept to a minimum, as the Illini allowed Hill to do it all on his own. He connected on 5-of-8 three-pointers, but said his short game was the difference.

"I think a lot of my isolation plays were short, late shot clock”, said Hill, describing his efforts to make an effective play after receiving the ball as the :30 second shot clock was running out. “The way I was feeling, you know, I thought I could be able to get a good shot for the team during those isolation plays."

Northern Kentucky led by as many as eight points in the first half, and took a 33-31 lead to the locker room, before Hill exploded for 29 second-half points. 

The Norse out-rebounded Illinois by a tally of 43 to 32. Illini coach John Groce recognized rebounding as an early-season concern for his team.

“I didn’t think we blocked out very well Friday night, to be honest”, said Groce. “In fact, I showed it on the film, I thought it was poor.  Today I thought was about the same, and obviously if we don’t get that shored up, that’s gonna be a problem.  You know you have to block out better.  We’ve got to be more physical without fouling while we’re doing it.”

Carson Williams, the reigning Mr. Basketball in Kentucky, led all players with 14 boards. Lavone Holland II led Northern Kentucky with 13 points.

Hill became only the seventh Illini to score 40-plus points in a game. The last was Brandon Paul, who tallied 43 to upset 5th-ranked Ohio State on Jan. 10, 2012.

Illinois will play its third game in five days when McKendree University comes to town on Tuesday. Starting time is 7 P.M for the game, which airs on the Big Ten Network.