Illinois Fighting Illini Vs. Loyola Ramblers Recap: Illini Cruise In 67-49 Victory To Open Season

Illinois' steady defense kept the Ramblers under wraps for most of the night.

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Illinois Vs. Loyola Recap: Illini Suffocate Ramblers in 67-49 Victory

After an understandably shaky first half in their opening game of the season on Friday night, the Illinois offense found its groove in the second half as the team cruised to a 67-49 over the Loyola Ramblers.The Fighting Illini were lead by sophomore seven footer Meyels Leonard, who finished with 15 points on 70% shooting from the arc to go along with six blocks. Illinois had two other players finish in double digits: junior guard Brandon Paul, who scored 14 points and added three rebounds and assists, and junior forward Tyler Griffey, whose 10 points were complemented by four rebounds and two assists.

But the true star of the night was Illinois' defense, who held the Ramblers to 35% shooting from the field and 29% shooting from three. Walt Gibler, the Ramblers leading returning scorer, picked up 19 points, but no teammate managed to reach double digits. The Fighting Illini will return to the court at home on Monday against SIU Edwardsville.

For more breaking news, previews, and recaps, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. And head over to Hail to the Orange for more Illinois commentary and analysis.

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Illinois Vs. Loyola Score Update: Illini Lead By Ten At Half

Well, it wasn't pretty, but Illinois has a relatively comfortable 26-16 halftime lead over the Loyola Ramblers. The opening game of a college basketball season is always unpredictable, as teams break in new players, new sets and new rotations. Teams often take baby steps in games like these, especially ones like Illinois that are breaking in a slew of young players.

The tale of the tape from the first half tonight is pretty ugly: the Illini shot 44% from the floor, 29% from three and didn't get to the free throw line a single time. Illinois was led in the half by sophomore center Meyers Leonard, who in scoring nine of his team's 26 points, was a perfect 4-4 from the field, including one three pointer. Junior forward Tyler Griffey was second in the half with seven points scored, but that came on 3-7 shooting and he also picked up two fouls. All that said, the Illini's defense shined, as they held the Ramblers to 30% shooting from the field and 25% shooting from three.

For more breaking news, previews, and recaps, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. And head over to Hail to the Orange for more Illinois commentary and analysis.

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Illinois Fighting Illini, Loyola Ramblers Preview: Illini Start Basketball Season At Home

The Fighting Illini start the 2011-2012 basketball season against in-state, out-of-conference rival, the Loyola Ramblers.

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