Dain Dainja led Illinois Fighting Illini men's basketball with a second-straight double-double in a win over Kansas City on Friday night.
By Anderson Kimball Decatur (Ill.) Herald & Review
CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois had a rough offensive start, but Dain Dainja
came in with a spark.
Dainja had 20 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks off the bench, and despite starting 1-for-18 from the field, Illinois beat Kansas City 86-48 on Friday.
The rough start meant the Roos got off to an early 9-5 lead, but then Dainja emerged off the bench. He had five rebounds in his first three minutes, and an offensive board and an and-1 put the Illini within one with 12:04 left in the first.
hit a 3 soon after, and Illinois never trailed from then on.
Dainja has been active on the glass to start the season with 25 boards in 39 minutes so far.
He played the fifth-most minutes on the team with 23. Dainja and Jayden Epps were on the floor for the majority of a 34-14 run to end the half that saw the Illini go up 16 at the break. Illinois finished that half making 11-of-16 after the rough start from the field.
Dainja offered rim protection as well with five blocks, punctuating a sequence where Coleman Hawkins
had a breakaway dunk before Dainja swatted away a layup on the other end. Dainja had a team-high 13 points in the second half while the Illini held on comfortably to the finish and gave freshmen a good chunk of minutes.