Kendrick Nunn scored 27 points and Michael Finke added 24 to help Illinois survive Western Carolina Saturday, 80-68.
Illinois (4-5) pulled away late. But the game was tied as late as the 7:58 mark in the second half when Elijah Pughsley hit a 3-pointer to make the score 59-59.
But Illinois answered with a pair of baskets by Nunn. The second was a powerful dunk that gave Illinois a 63-59 edge with 7:18 left. Western Carolina never got any closer.
While Finke and Nunn did most of the scoring for Illinois their teammates were quiet. The rest of the Illini combined for 29 points.
Mike Brown led Western Carolina (3-5) with 23 points. Pughsley finished with 15.
>>UAB Uses Second Half Burst To Escape Illinois State
Chris Cokley scored 20 points, Dirk Williams added 16 points off the bench and Alabama-Birmingham rode a strong second half to a 74-61 win over Illinois State on Saturday night.
The Blazers (5-3) trailed by four, 29-27 in the final minute of the first half. Williams knocked down a 3-pointer with 36 seconds left to cut the deficit to a point.
Cokley hit the first four field goals as UAB traded baskets to start the second half. William Lee put the Blazers in front for good with a 3-point play with 12:52 left in the game to start a 19-2 run.
UAB finished shooting 50 percent from the field (28 of 56), including 9 of 22 (40.9 percent) from beyond the arc.
DeVaughn Akoon-Purcell scored 18 points and made 8 of 20 shots from deep to lead Illinois State (3-5).