CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- John Ekey scored 19 points and grabbed seven rebounds on Sunday as Illinois cruised to an easy 81-55 victory over previously unbeaten Bradley.
The 6-foot-7-inch Ekey hit five of seven from the three-point line. Junior guard Ravonte Rice scored 13 points, and Tracy Abrams added 12.Tyshon Pickett had a game-high 21 points for Bradley (4-1). Walt Lemon Jr., the Braves' leading scorer with 18.3 points per game coming into Sunday's contest, added 12.Illinois out-rebounded Bradley 49-25, and had more offensive rebounds (10) in the first half than Bradley had defensive (9).The Illini led 34-19 at the half, and held Bradley to 28 percent field-goal shooting in the first half. Illinois ended up shooting 47.5 percent from the field for the game, while Bradley shot 36 percent.Late in the first half, Bradley's Xzavier Taylor fouled Rice, and both were awarded technical fouls after they each complained loudly.Illinois played its fourth game of a five-game home stand, and opens 4-0 for the third consecutive season. Bradley had been aiming for its first 5-0 start since 2006-07.The two teams are separated by about 90 miles on Interstate 74. Illinois leads the series 13-3, but Bradley won the last meeting 72-68 on a neutral court in 2009. The last time Bradley won in Champaign was Dec. 14, 1929.Sunday's game also saw Bradley coach Geno Ford go up against younger brother Dustin Ford, an assistant to Illinois coach John Groce.Both head coaches also offered their thoughts and prayers to the victims of Sunday's outbreak of tornadoes across central Illinois, which caused widespread damage and injured several residents throughout the Peoria and Champaign areas.Illinois squares off against Chicago State at home Friday, while Bradley travels to Arizona State on Friday.