Illinois 88, W. Michigan 53

BY foxsports • December 17, 2009

Sixth man Dominique Keller scored 15 points and forward Mike Davis had 12 Sunday to lead Illinois past Western Michigan, 88-53.

Both teams opened cold, shooting a combined 1-for-17 in the game's first 5:30.

But the Illini (8-2) opened up a 16-5 lead with 12:09 left in the first half on three straight baskets by Demetri McCamey, D.J. Richardson and Keller. The Broncos (3-4) never recovered.

Illinois' bench players scored 40 points.

If there was a chance for Western Michigan to stay in the game, it came early, when the Illini couldn't buy a basket and coach Bruce Weber loudly reminded his team often to play controlled and pass the ball around.

Illinois didn't hit a field goal in the first 5:11, going 0-for-9 and limping to a 4-3 lead at the free-throw line.

But the Broncos were just as bad.

They had one field goal over that stretch. Point guard David Kool - Western Michigan's leading scorer with 23 points a game - had two points at halftime on 0-for-8 shooting and didn't score from the field until early in the second half.

And after Illinois got its first points from the field - a short basket from Mike Davis that gave the Illini a 6-3 lead - Western Michigan stayed cold. The Broncos were 7-for-34 at halftime and trailed the Illini 48-25.

The Illini really came to life after McCamey - who finished with 11 points - scored on a layup on a fast break with 13:34 left in the half for a 10-5 Illini edge.

Then, after a fast defensive stop, freshman guard Richardson hit a 3-pointer at 12:48. Thirty seconds later, Richardson, standing on the baseline, fed a hard pass to Keller at the top of the key. Keller buried a 3 for a 16-5 lead that opened up the game.

Down by 23, Western Michigan went on a 7-2 run to open the second half, including four points from Flenard Whitfield on a free throw and a 3-pointer.

Whitfield finished with 17 to lead the Broncos, and the quick run he fueled closed the gap to 50-32 with 17:57 to play.

But with Weber again on his feet, this time pleading for intensity from his team, the Illini quickly doused whatever comeback the Broncos could muster with an 8-3 run. Davis hit back-to-back jump shots and McCamey and Mike Tisdale followed with a pair of layups to extend the lead back to 58-35.

Kool, a senior guard, settled for 13 points for Western Michigan.

Weber set a goal for Keller to be the best sixth man in the Big Ten when the season started, and the 6-foot-7 senior is averaging 6.6 points and 2.6 rebounds a game.

But Sunday he found his 3-point touch, trying three and hitting all of them.

Illinois has won four in a row, and now hits the road for a trip that includes Georgia, Missouri and Gonzaga.

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