Hill with 34 points, Illinois beats South Dakota, 91-79
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Malcolm Hill scored a career-high 34 points and had 11 rebounds, and Illinois never trailed in a 91-79 victory over South Dakota on Saturday.
Hill was 10 of 16 from the floor with four 3-pointers and had five assists. Jalen Coleman-Lands added 17 points with four 3s for Illinois (7-5), which has won four straight.
''Our offense was about as good as it's been all year,'' Illinois coach John Groce said. ''We were really hitting on all cylinders.''
The Illini opened on a 14-0 run behind eight-straight defensive stops, and led 55-36 at the break.
Illinois really came out of the gates hot,'' South Dakota coach Craig Smith said. ''We just dug too big of a hole in the first half.''
Tre Burnette had a career-best 27 points on 10-of-17 shooting to lead South Dakota (7-5).
Burnette made three 3-pointers and Trey Norris made a jumper during an 11-4 spurt to pull the Coyotes to 84-78 with two minutes left. Michael Finke answered with a 3-pointer, and Hill and Coleman-Lands each made a pair of free throws to seal it.
Illinois shot 47 percent on 14-of-30 shooting from beyond the arc.
''These points don't really mean anything to me,'' Hill said. ''I was actually pretty upset at the end of the game just because we made it a closer game than it needed to be.''
Illinois: Malcolm Hill was 10 of 11 from the line and has scored in double figures in each game this season. His career-high against South Dakota surpasses his previous career-best 28 points he scored against Maryland in Jan. 2015. ... Michael Finke finished with 13 points and Kendrick Nunn added 10 points as the Illini had four players in double figures. ... The Illini beat South Dakota in their previous meeting, 96-56 during the 1971-72 season.
South Dakota: Guard Tre Burnette was 5-for-9 from beyond the arc, also a career-best. ... The Coyotes have lost two of their last three games since snapping a five-game winning streak.
Illinois forward Michael Finke hit a game-sealing 3-pointer with a minute to go, finally putting the game out of reach at 87-78. A minute prior, Coyote guard Tre Burnette made it an 84-78 game with a 3-pointer, but missed one on the next possession that would have made it a three-point game.
Illinois started on a 14-0 run, and shot 60 percent from 3-point range, taking a 55-36 lead into the half. ''When you allow a team to shoot 60 percent in a half, you're not going to win many games,'' South Dakota coach Craig Smith said. Illinois shot 59.4 percent from the field in the first half, and never trailed.
Malcolm Hill has led Illinois through a difficult nonconference run, putting up double digits in all 12 games this season. The Illini have been without starters Tracy Abrams, Mike Thorne Jr. and Leron Black due to injuries. Starting guard Kendrick Nunn also missed the first two weeks of the season with a dislocated thumb.
Illinois plays Missouri on Wednesday at the Scottrade Center in St. Louis, Mo.
South Dakota visits UNLV on Tuesday.