3:31 first half — Illinois 33, UNLV 26
The teams are essentially trading both makes and misses, keeping the Illini lead stable. A trio of Illini have two fouls right now — Kipper Nichols, Samba Kane and Giorgi Bezhanishvili. They’ve combined for 17 points, and both Kane and Bezhanishvili are needed in the paint to counter Cheikh Mbacke Diong, who leads the Rebels with seven points.
Illinois shooting 44.4 percent from the field, compared to just 31.3 for UNLV.
7:44 first half — Illinois 25, UNLV 19
Samba Kane thrilled the crowd with a big block, followed by a Dikembe Mutombo finger wag. He wound up turning the ball over at the other end, leading to a Rebels dunk, but it was a fun moment while it lasted.
Andres Feliz joined the Illinois scoring column with two free throws, and Aaron Jordan also is on the board with a field goal. Each team has six guys on the board. Kipper Nichols leads all scorers with eight points.
10:44 first half — Illinois 19, UNLV 13
Both teams went about a minute and a half without a point before Illinois broke off a 7-0 run. Kane is up to six points, the latest when he converted a slam on a pretty alley-oop pass from Alan Griffin. Kipper Nichols also boasts six points, adding a three-pointer to his earlier dunk.
The Rebels aren’t getting things as easily in the paint anymore, though their last two baskets — from Amauri Hardy and Shakur Juiston — came that way. Trent Frazier responded with a three. Illini contending much better with the size of Cheikh Mbacke Diong in the paint.
15:49 first half — Illinois 9, UNLV 9
Samba Kane got some surprise minutes early as the first guy off the bench for Brad Underwood. And he immediately contributed, with four points. He narrowly missed on a dunk as well. Kipper Nichols didn’t miss in that regard, slamming one home after being stuff on a three-pointer. He drew (and hit) an and-one to boot.
But the Illini are having trouble stopping the Rebels on the glass. UNLV credited with five offensive rebounds early. Mbacke Diong, checking in at 6-foot-11, is having his way in that regard.
Pregame — 12:55 p.m.
Looking for some early reading ahead of tipoff? Typical beat writer Scott Richey has you covered.
Pregame — 12:45 p.m.
The starters for Illinois today against UNLV are Trent Frazier, Kipper Nichols, Ayo Dosunmu, Aaron Jordan and Giorgi Bezhanishvili. The Illini are not only trying to end a three-game losing streak, they’re also attempting to avenge an 89-82 loss to the Rebels last season in Las Vegas.
A nice treat today for the Illini faithful amid a tough start to the season … Lou Henson is in attendance, along with wife Mary.
We’ll tip off in about 12 minutes from State Farm Center.