never know how opening nights are going to pan out, but this was
both entertaining and illuminating. It was illuminated by Leonard's
ubiquitous presence. He had six ferocious blocked shots and worked
his spots in the post as hard as I have seen him.
Abrams impressed Greg and me along press row in a number of ways.
First, he led all players in rebounds at the half. In fact, Abrams
led the Illini in caroms with seven, to go along with two steals and
eight points -- not bad for a debut.
If my math and stats are correct, I had the Illini with only
three second-half turnovers and only 12 for the game, which isn't
bad when you consider how many players Illinois is using and how
many different combinations hit the floor. The Illini held the
Ramblers to just 35 percent shooting from the field while hitting
for 48 percent themselves.
Leonard, Brandon Paul and Tyler Griffey led the way with 15, 14
and 10 points respectively. Walt Gibler led Loyola and was their
only player in double figures, with 19.
Next up for Illinois is a Monday nighter (tonight) versus
Southern Illinois-Edwardsville that tips at 7:30.
[By JEFF MAYFIELD]
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