CHAMPAIGNE, Ill. - Central Michigan had enough to fight back against one barrage -- but not two.
Tracy Abrams scored a career-high 31 points Saturday as Illinois handed the Central Michigan Chippewas a 92-73 nonconference loss at State Farm Center. The setback ended CMU's four-game win streak and dropped the Chippewas to 8-3 on the campaign.
"It was always our . . .
The Chippewas found themselves in a 19-point deficit with seven minutes to play in the first half against the Illini (8-3). They whittled that down to five, 41-36, with just under two minutes to play in the first half.
The Chippewas never got their deficit under 10 in the second half and saw it balloon to as high as 26 points.
Junior guard Marcus Keene scored 25 points to lead CMU, which was outrebounded by a near 2-to-1 margin. Keene entered the game as the nation's leading scorer at 31.4 points per game.
"A lot bigger, a lot stronger, more physical all the way around, and we haven't responded real well," Davis said in describing the Illini along with the two other opponents that have defeated CMU this season -- St. Bonaventure and Arkansas-Little Rock.
"We're not going to have that answer tomorrow. It's about making small steps and getting better and better so that when we see a physical team - although I don't know that we'll see anyone quite as big or physical as Illinois - that we're better prepared.
"That's why you schedule a game like this. You want to find out what you need to do to improve. And I think our guys understand exactly what that is."
Braylon Rayson added 18 points and Josh Kozinski had 12 for the Chippewas.
Joining Abrams in double figures for Illinois were Leron Black (21), Maverick Morgan (11) and Malcom Hill (11). Center Mike Thorne Jr. grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds to go with eight points.
Central Michigan returns to action Dec. 21 at Montana State.