Jacob Grandison scored a career-high 20 points as short-handed No. 11 Illinois opened the season by rolling past Jackson State 71-47 on Tuesday night.
Grandison and Da’Monte Williams, both fifth-year seniors, were the only returning starters on the floor, but the Illini didn’t look out of sync.
Sophomore Coleman Hawkins had a career-high 13 points and eight rebounds for the Illini.
Illinois guard Andre Curbelo was ruled out shortly before the game with an injury. Star center Kofi Cockburn (three-game suspension), Trent Frazier (shoulder) and Austin Hutcherson (tailbone) were also sidelined.
Jayveous McKinnis and Jonas James scored 11 points apiece for Jackson State.
Illinois showcased its depth while missing three likely starters in Cockburn, Curbelo and Frazier. Strong performances from Grandison and Hawkins bode well for a frontcourt that is unproven beyond Cockburn. The Illini held a 45-35 edge in rebounds while limiting the Tigers to 37.3% shooting.
Illinois hosts Arkansas State on Friday.