>>CBB: Black's Career High Lifts Illinois Over UT-Martin
Leron Black scored a career-high 23 points and snatched eight rebounds Sunday, helping Illinois avoid an early season upset to UT Martin for a 77-74 victory.
Down by three with under a minute to go, the Skyhawks had two chances to tie the game but ultimately came up short.
The Illini led by as much as 19, but the Skyhawks - led by Delfincko Bogan's 23 points and four rebounds - wouldn't go away easily.
Trailing 38-51, UT Martin went on an 11-0 run at the 15:30 mark of the second half, capped off by a lucky bankshot 3-pointer from Matthew Butler that cut the lead to four.
Illinois pushed the margin back up to 15 with 4:34 left, but UT Martin responded once again with a late-game 18-6 run. With 0.7 second left, Butler took a potential game-tying 3-pointer at the buzzer but airballed.
The Illini started off much slower than in their season opener, missing seven of their first 10 shots. But Black found a rhythm early.
He nailed the first basket of the game on a turnaround jumper from the free throw line, and finished the first half with 13 points on 5-6 shooting.
Freshman Mark Smith was Illinois' second leading scorer with 13 points.
Illinois will face DePaul Friday night in the third game of a season-opening six-game home stand. The Blue Demons are 1-1 and have four players averaging double-figures.
>>CBB: Florida Gulf Coast Rallies Past Illinois State
Zach Johnson scored a career-high 27 points, Brandon Goodwin added 21, and defending Atlantic Sun Conference champion Florida Gulf Coast beat Illinois State 98-87 in Saturday's season opener for both teams.
After 12 lead changes and eight ties, the Eagles pulled away in the second half on a 10-0 run sparked by Dinero Mercurius' back-to-back 3-pointers and led 76-75 on Johnson's third 3 with 9:36 left. The Redbirds closed to 83-82 on Milik Yarbrough's jumper with 4:33 to go, but Christian Terrell hit a 3 and the Eagles led by nine, 96-87, after Goodwin's 3-point play with 50 seconds left.
The Eagles outrebounded the defending Missouri Valley Conference regular-season co-champion Redbirds 48-24, led by Terrell and Christian Carlyle with eight apiece, and outscored them 48-34 in the paint. The Eagles led the country in points in the paint last year at 41.3 per game, in addition to finishing 3rd in the nation with 159 dunks. The Redbirds had won its last 15 games in which it outrebounded its opponents.
Keyshawn Evans scored a career-high 28 points for Illinois State before fouling out. Phil Fayne scored a career-high 24 points and Taylor Bruninga added 14.
>>CBB: Bradley Rolls IUPUI
Nate Kennell had a career-high five 3-pointers to total 19 points and help lead Bradley to a 68-53 win over IUPUI in the season opener for both teams on Saturday.
Kennell nailed 5 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished by hitting 7 of 11 field-goal attempts.
Donte Thomas made 6 of 9 from the floor for 15 points while grabbing eight rebounds and dishing out four assists. Darrell Brown added 10 points and Dwayne Lautier-Ogunleye grabbed 11 rebounds.
The Braves were up 28-19 at the half. Ryan Stipanovich drilled a trey to push the advantage to 54-41 with 7:54 remaining in the game.
The Braves were 25 of 56 from the floor, while limiting IUPUI to 28 percent shooting (15 of 53).
Ron Patterson led the Jaguars, making 4 of 8 from beyond the arc to total 16 points, while Evan Hall scored 11 with seven rebounds.