National Basketball Association
Illinois 82, Valparaiso 57
When: 7:00 PM ET, Tuesday, March 14, 2017
Where: State Farm Center, Champaign, Illinois
# Lewis Garrison, # Lamont Simpson, # Edwin Young
In its first game since head coach John Groce was fired, Illinois broke out to a big lead and rolled to an 82-57 victory over Valparaiso in first-round NIT action on Tuesday night at State Farm Center in Champaign, Ill.
Second-seeded Illinois (19-14) got 25 points from senior swingman Malcolm Hill in just 27 minutes of action, while sophomore power forward Leron Black added 13 points and 12 rebounds for his second double-double of the season.
Illinois pounded the undersized Crusaders 43-26 on the boards to earn another home game for interim head coach Jamall Walker, Groce's top assistant, who will guide the Illini against the winner of Tuesday's game between third-seeded Utah (20-11) and Boise State (19-11).
Seventh-seeded Valparaiso (24-9), the Horizon League regular-season co-champion, couldn't cope with Illinois' size while playing its fourth game without Alec Peters, the conference player of the year who sat out again with a stress fracture in his right foot.
Junior guard Tevonn Walker paced the Crusaders with a career-high-tying 25 points as he canned 9 of 14 shots from the field, but the rest of the team hit just 12 of 43 shots (28 percent).
Illinois needed just 5:07 to set the tone with its first double-digit lead. Hill, who had his run of 25 straight double-figure scoring efforts snapped when he scored just four points against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament, triggered the 16-6 opening run with back-to-back 3-pointers. Black capped it with a dunk.
The Illini pushed the margin to 41-24 by the break as Hill (13 points) and Black (11 points) equaled the Crusaders' production.
Valparaiso never got closer than 15 points during the second half. When Hill drilled a 3-pointer from the corner with 7:42 to play -- his fourth 3-pointer of the night -- to give the Illini a 63-41 lead, it signaled the chance for Walker to substitute liberally.
Illinois gave all 14 eligible players a chance to play at least two minutes and Champaign native Clayton Jones, a junior walkon, took advantage with a four-point play in the final minute for his first points of the season.
Top Game Performances
Tevonn Walker 25
Malcolm Hill 25
Nick Davidson 2
Te'Jon Lucas 6
Tevonn Walker 8
Leron Black 12
Tevonn Walker 7
||Free Throws Made
Malcolm Hill 7
Tevonn Walker 2
Tracy Abrams 2
Tracy Abrams 1
Team Stats Summary