North Florida leads wire-to-wire to take down Illinois
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) -- Dallas Moore scored 26 points and Beau Beech added 25 as North Florida used a hot start from the 3-point line to beat Illinois 93-81 on Friday night.
North Florida was 9 of 17 on 3-pointers during the first half, when the Ospreys raced to an 18-point lead.
The onslaught continued early in the second half. North Florida was 14 of 23 from the 3-point overall after hitting four of its first five 3-pointers.
The Ospreys kept the momentum rolling from last season, when the school made its first appearance in the NCAA tournament. North Florida never trailed on its way to a win over a Big Ten team for the second consecutive season.
Beech, named the Atlantic Sun Conference preseason player of the year, was seven of eight on 3-pointers. Moore hit three of six and the Ospreys were in control for nearly the entire game.
Foul trouble forced Beech to the bench four minutes into the second half, when he was whistled for his fourth foul. Nevertheless, three more 3-pointers pushed the lead to 68-45, the Osprey's largest of the game.
Mike Thorne Jr. scored 25 points for Illinois, which lost a season-opener for the first time since 1998. An Illinois team already hampered by injury in the preseason lost starting point guard Jaylon Tate to a compound fracture of a finger midway through the first half.
Malcolm Hill ignited an Illinois rally midway through the second half by scoring 10 points in the first 14 minutes, and a basket down low by Thorne pulled Illinois to within 76-65.
Moments later, North Florida answered with a four-point play from Trent Mackey to push the lead to 80-67 to chill the rally.
Hill scored 20 points for Illinois.
Illinois: With State Farm Center under renovation in Champaign, Illinois moved four games to Springfield. The Illini don't play on campus until facing Notre Dame in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge on Dec. 2. Illinois also plays North Dakota State, Chattanooga and Chicago State at the Prairie Capital Convention Center several blocks from the state capitol.
North Florida: The Ospreys defeated a Big Ten team for the second -straight season. A year ago, North Florida defeated Purdue 73-70 for its first victory against a power conference foe. North Florida is a member of the Atlantic Sun Conference. Last season, the Ospreys set school records with 23 wins. They lost to Robert Morris in a First Four game in Dayton in the NCAA tournament.
Illinois hosts North Dakota State Sunday in Springfield.
North Florida hosts Texas-Rio Grande Valley Monday.