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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.