No. 10 Illinois 66, Eastern Kentucky 53
Brandon Paul scored 17 points, Tracy Adams added 13 and Illinois pulled away late to remain unbeaten with a victory over visiting Eastern Kentucky on Sunday night.
In a game between undefeated teams, the Illini led by 11 early but needed a late 12-2 run to gain control and help John Groce become only the second coach in Illinois history to win his first 12 games. Groce matched the school record for the best start by a first-year coach set by Fletcher Lane in 1907.
Joseph Bertrand chipped in with 11 points for Illinois.
Corey Walden scored 21 points and Glenn Cosey had 11 for the Colonels (9-1), who came in riding the school’s best start in 66 years. Eastern Kentucky hadn’t won nine consecutive games since the 1964-65 season.
Groce wore an orange sport coat for the first time and stood for pictures before the game with Lou Henson, the legendary Illini coach who made the orange wardrobe his trademark.
Illinois stretched its regular-season, nonconference winning streak at home to 33 games, but the Illini have been unable to duplicate their strong road performances at home. Illinois rolled through the Maui Invitational, winning its first title there to break into the Top 25, and an 11-point win at Gonzaga last weekend lifted the Illini into the top 10.
But the team’s play has been underwhelming during the home schedule.
The Illini raced to a 17-6 lead but had trouble putting away the Colonels. The Illini were 2-of-13 from the 3-point line with 10 turnovers in the first half. Eastern Kentucky scored 11 points off those turnovers to keep it close.
No. 24 Oklahoma State 91, Central Arkansas 63
For the first eight minutes against Oklahoma State, Central Arkansas didn’t miss starting point guard LaQuentin Miles a single bit.
Then reality set in.
Le’Bryan Nash scored 19 points, Markel Brown had 14 points and eight rebounds and Oklahoma State overcame an early 11-point deficit to beat the visiting Bears.
Even with Miles out with a broken hand, Central Arkansas (4-4) made 10 of its first 15 shots and raced out to a 22-11 lead. It didn’t last, though, as Oklahoma State scored the next 13 points and never trailed again.
OSU coach Travis Ford called timeout after Jarvis Garner’s layup pushed the Central Arkansas lead to 11 with 12 minutes left before halftime, and the Cowboys (8-1) responded immediately.
The Bears missed their next 12 attempts against changing defenses, and Oklahoma State roared back to take the lead when Brown converted a layup while getting fouled and then head-butted the basket support in celebration. He completed the three-point play to make it 24-22 with 6:42 left in the first half.
Jordan Harks tied his career high with 16 points and Garner added 14 points for Central Arkansas.