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NCAA Basketball Cancun Challenge: Illini Hold On For Victory In Opening Round

The Illinois Fighting Illini built up an 18 point halftime lead over the Richmond Spiders, and despite a strong effort from Richmond in the second half, it's a lead that the Illini would not relinquish as they held on for a 70-61 victory. After being suffocated by the Illini in the first half, the Spiders were able to find some cracks in the Illinois defense, which allowed them to score 42 points in the second period, which more than doubled their output at halftime.

But that halftime lead was enough for the Illini, who were led by Meyers Leonard's 22 points on 7-15 shooting from the field. Right behind Leonard was senior guard Sam Maniscalco, who dropped 19, and D.J. Richardson, who finished the game with 15 points, albeit on 3-8 shooting from the field. Illinois was cold from outside throughout the game, making only three of 10 attempted three pointers, but they made up for it at the line, where they shot 82% as a team.

The Illini will take on the Illinois State Redbirds, who knocked off the Rutgers Scarlet Knights 76-70, Wednesday in the second round of the Cancun Classic.

For more on the Illinois in the Cancun Challenge, stay tuned to SB Nation Chicago. For more on the Illini, visit Hail to the Orange, SB Nation's Illinois Fighting Illini blog.