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.