Rapid Reaction: Illinois 75, Colgate 55

Instant analysis from Illinois' season opening victory over Colgate Friday.

CHAMPAIGN - Illinois made 13 3-pointers Friday against Colgate, building an early double digit lead and maintaining control in the second half.

It was over when: Brandon Paul finished off the Raiders with a pull up jumper and a 3-pointer on back-to-back possessions, pushing the Illini lead to 75-53 with less than two minutes to play. The game was never really in question in the second half, but Paul's five-point flurry capped off the evening.

Thumbs up: For three-point shooting and rebounding. Illinois shot 43 percent from 3 and was exceptional from deep in the first half (55.6 percent). Six players hit at least one 3-pointer in the opening period and the 13 made 3s eclipsed last season's high (11).

The Illini controlled the glass, winning the rebound battle 47-32. The team had 19 offensive rebounds, which led to 21 second-chance points. Six different players had at least six boards.

Needs some work: It's hard to nit-pick when most of the stats were in Illinois' favor. If there was one area lacking, it was free-throw shooting. The Illini were 4-of-10 from the stripe -- too small a sample size to generate much concern.

Unsung hero: Sam McLaurin. The big man came off the bench and had seven rebounds. His five offensive boards didn't necessarily lead to points on his own, but coach Jim Groce was outspoken about McLaurin's effort and energy.

The takeaway: Guard Brandon Paul played best-case scenario, scoring 20 points on 8-of-15 shooting and nearly reaching career highs in rebounds (eight) and assists (five). He also took two charges and was active on the defensive end. As a team, Illinois steadily build a commanding lead in the first half and didn't let up down the stretch. All in all, a solid, consistent outing in Groce's first game on the sideline.

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