The Illini played an up-tempo game, utilizing nearly every player on the bench. The Aces turned the ball over 26 times, leading to 32 Illinois points.
K. J. Riley led the Aces with 14 points, Marty Hill added 13 and Shea Feehan 12 for Evansville.
Illinois was in charge from the opening tip, going on runs of 8-0, 16-1 and 18-3 to lead 53-22 at the break. The Aces turned the ball over 15 times in the first half, leading to 18 Illini points.
Illinois scored 22 of its 53 first-half points in the paint, including a spectacular cross-court pass from Nichols to Bezhanishvili for a rim-rattling dunk with 30 seconds left in the half that brought the crowd to its feet.
Illinois is 34-2 when starting the season at State Farm Center, including an active streak of 22 straight wins.
ILLINOIS POSTGAME NOTES
• Illinois opened its 114th season of men’s basketball on Thursday night. After tonight’s victory, the Fighting Illini have all-time record of 100-14 (.877) in season openers.
• The Illini are 34-2 all-time (.944) when starting the season at State Farm Center, which includes an active streak of 22 straight wins when opening the year at SFC.
• Tonight marked the first-ever meeting between Illinois and Evansville. The Illini own a 51-7 all-time record against current members of the Missouri Valley Conference.
• Illinois score 99 points, its highest output since last year’s season opener 11/10/17 against Southern (102).
• The Illini shot 56.3 percent for the game (40-of-71) and a sizzling 69.0 percent in the second half (20-of-29).
• Illinois held a halftime lead of 31 points (53-22), its largest since 36 vs. Kennessaw State 12/27/14.
• The Illini used three seperate runs of 10+ points to break the game open in the first half
» 10-0 from 17:03-13:30 to go from trailing 8-7 to leading 17-8
» 13-0 from 11:02-8:09 to go from leading 22-14 to leading 35-14
» 12-0 from 7:53-4:22 that took the score from 35-16 to 47-16
» In all, Illinois went on a 40-8 run during that time span.
• Illinois forced 26 turnovers, the most forced by the Illini since 11/22/17 against Augustana, turning that into 32 points on the other end.
• The Illinois-Evansville contest was a mainland game as part of the Maui Jim Maui Invitational. The Illini will depart for Hawaii next Thursday for three games at the Lahaina Civic Center, beginning with a Nov. 19 match-up against No. 3 Gonzaga.
• Ayo Dosunmu became the first player born after Jan. 1, 2000 to score in Illinois program history.
• Making his Illinois debut, Ayo Dosunmu scored 18 points, the most scored in an Illini freshman debut since Brandon Paul scored 22 against SIU Edwardsville (11/13/09).
The Illini will host Georgetown on Tuesday at State Farm Center and part of the Gavitt Tipoff games. Tip is set for 7:30 pm CT on FS1.